The stress of us being home 24 hours a day is having a great weight-gaining effect on our middle cat.
This is officially my one week on quarantine. In the past week my partner and I, alternating in OCD energy, have cleaned the loft several times. I spent an entire day organizing every single facet of my camping and survival gear. Closets have been cleaned. Clothes separated for donation. Rugs hung off the small balcony.
The thing that strikes me as the most odd about all this is the tendency to stress-eat. Neither my partner and I have been doing this, but it seems that the stress of us being home 24 hours a day is having a great weight-gaining effect on our middle cat. She has gained a couple of pounds in the last week.
It might be me that is stressing her out. Being home with the animals and fickle internet leads me to paying too much attention to them. This cat. This aspiring bowling ball with paws has been in at least three staring contests with me today. Every time she hears the words ‘social distancing’ I imagine her eyes glaze over with jealousy. I put my hand under the covers in imitation of prey and also predator as I attack her from under my partner’s antique quilt. She gets fed up and runs to her food bowl. Well, ‘runs’ is an ambitious word.
My partner and I are managers at a local restaurant. We’re laid off. She just finished her work at the make shift WFH office we set up for her. Her last official task as GM was to file unemployment for all of the employees at our restaurant. Including the two of us.
We tried holding on for awhile by providing take out to our regulars. Business was good for about a week. All the tips we pooled for our out of work FOH employees. I was fortunate to be paid an hourly Chef’s wage while this was happening. I’m usually the bar manager. We closed our doors on the 17th to all employees besides management. Saint Patrick’s Day. This is usually one of the busiest days for restaurant workers, with cliché green beer, waitresses dressed in skimpy green attire, and the multi-national drunken Irish zombies out in droves.
I videoed the employees at the meeting on the 17th with bittersweet fondness. If I had known I wouldn’t see them for an uncertain amount of time, I would have tried to pay attention and appreciate them more. All of their idiosyncrasies.
One employee, only 20 years of age, is the Princess of the restaurant. She’s one of the best workers, the sweetest souls. We were to celebrate her birthday together. We were going to train her to be a confident bartender. I remember seeing her in her St. Patrick’s day hat, with her boyfriend in tow, at the employee meeting on the 17th.
She wrote “‘Sarah was here’ – Bye” on the dry-erase ‘86’ board we keep by the expo window. It made me unexplainably sad. Wistful even. As if I was starting to grasp the severity and accept that life was about to change. Drastically.
My days are spent waking up with this incredible fleeting optimism only to have it dashed by lunchtime. I keep obsessing over the news, searching all headlines for budding cures. The only thing budding are the spring-time flowers right outside and maybe the hope of some anti-body plasma treatment.
Apparently, if you survive the Corona-virus the antibodies in your blood can be concentrated into plasma and injected via transfusion into current patients struggling with lack-luster immune systems.
I haven’t had the Virus yet (to my knowledge) but I’m dying to do something of use. I’m not a person to get sick. I’ve had the flu maybe twice in 15 years, if that. I’ve never been hospitalized due to illness, mostly just clumsy weird injuries and daredevil stunts have sent me to seek medical attention, yet I have never broken a bone.
I feel immune. I hope that I am not wrong. I worry about my partner incessantly. She’s prone to allergies, food and environmental, and she gets sick with colds and flus and the you-name its of this world. Every time she sneezes I look at her for the standard reassuring response. Yes, it was just dust. She points to the fur she’s retrieved with a broom from under the kitchen island. I calm down.
We currently can’t see her parents who are in their 60’s and live just 3 miles away. That’s probably the hardest part of not socializing. She loves them so much and although I haven’t known them but a year, I do too.
Her father is the ever-prepared survival type, which brings me great comfort because I am too. Her mother says the F-word sometimes in the most intelligent and funny way, usually over a wonderful pescatarian meal she’s cooked for us, egged on by a glass of red wine. Being around them is comforting. Now, we’re reduced to getting our Amazon deliveries of kitty litter sent to their porch for pickup and waving from the yard.
I miss her mother’s best friend, who’s discombobulated new-wave spirituality is comforting just as much as survival preparedness. Because, again, I am the same way.
All these things are reason to panic, but every time I feel like I’m on the verge of doing just that, I seek out the aforementioned fat cat and settle an inch away from her face, and illicit competition in a staring contest.
No matter who wins, it ends with her at the food bowl.
I wonder if this curve will ever flatten. I wonder if people realize that this virus is not going away. It will effect everyone by the time we find a solid treatment, all in this together, just some having more viable immune systems and a plethora of anti-bodies.
I was having one of my daily existential crisis and recalled a speech by Ronald Reagan in which he called for a New World Order against a ‘universal threat’. The conspiracy theorists thought he meant aliens. Turns out it was a virus.
As part of me wants to get lost in the prospect of a possibly Orwellian future just around the corner, I’m using all my hindsight in this year of 2020 to appreciate what it is I have right now.
I have my health. I have two cats in the sunspot of the open door by the balcony. A lazy dog by the bed, who’s 10 years with me have been adventurous to say the least. A 15 year old cat curled around herself in the windowsill. A loving partner unceremoniously dragging a ladder around in front of me while she complains about not being able to find the duster for the ceiling fan. I have a family. I have hope.
In a time when everything is uncertain and full of fear, it is our history that shows us that hope is indeed imperative. Our ancestors overcame. This is not the first struggle and it won’t be the last. It’s definitely not aliens (yet) but we are all definitely in this together, (even when we’re distant purposefully).
The cat is eating again.