How do you keep up an emergency mind-set for weeks on end? I feel myself shifting into a headspace that regards quarantine as the new normal, with an array of implications. For one, I need to get my emotional shit together: my ups and downs, my not-always-suppressed tantrums. I don’t know how much of a pass I can continue to give myself as far as my feelings go. My before-self, before the pandemic, valued her sense of cheerful nihilism—a kind of hedonistic fuck-it vibe that saw me through difficult spots, when I could access it. The tense, watchful person that replaced her is so quick to anger, so quick to cry, so agitated, and so sad. She’s not doing me any favors, she’s not getting any good work done, she’s a pill of a mother and wife, and she’s not even making me thinner.
Last weekend, we visited with friends, taking all the new-normal precautions: they sat on their stoop, we were on the sidewalk, everybody wore masks. The wife offered me a drink, and I said yes. The warm expansive feeling that spread through my body as the vodka hit my bloodstream felt lovely, I won’t lie. (The morning-after heavy sads that are a feature of my middle-age drinking experience felt less great.) The next day, ravenous at noon, I went ahead and ate. It’s hardly a return to my old self, but it served to illustrate that abstemious behavior is sometimes nothing more than a form of superstition. If we’re in this for the long haul—and it seems pretty clear that we are—maybe keeping myself in good health and spirits is a better use of my time than a half-assed hunger strike against a virus. So, for now, I’ll eat lunch, I’ll have a drink on occasion, and I will share what I have as much as I can. And I will absolutely, under no circumstances, do a pullup.