25th month of 5th era 2020-04-18 (?) · 580 words · 3 min

My friend Will died sometime in the night between March 17th and 18th.

We met at the college I attended but didn't graduate from. He was the most cheerful of us, the most unreservedly caring. He's survived by his mother, a phrase so vile it's amazing the earth doesn't crack open when it's spoken. I'm grateful that no one will ever be able to say it for me.

Speaking of death, today I'm 38. One of my big regrets for the past year was not using the "I'm not old, I'm 37" joke from Monty Python and the Holy Grail often enough. Not enough people call me old! But I'm sure it'll happen if I wait long enough.

We're all waiting, now. San Francisco's shelter-in-place order was issued and re-issued, and then the state-wide order as well. Similar things will go into and out of effect over the next couple of years.

I've been quite pessimistic about the era of quarantine. It seems to me that, based on all available information, a lot of people will die, it will last for a few years, and there's nothing I can do about it but depress the room by saying so out loud.

And more personally, depression is the other thread of my thoughts. From time to time in my life, I'll have periods where something internal stops me from leaving my home. A fear I'll be hurt, and hurt others. Around the time I met Will it was the worst its ever been, and I hope that it ever will be. Since then I treat staying inside and being alone as a sign of my ill health. Something to be suspicious of. In some ways I'm lucky to adapt so easily to this - I was already working from home and cooking most of what I ate - but the sense of stasis is torturous.

In the past I would escape this fear of isolation by throwing myself into social and political activity. And as various political campaigns I was connected to have switched their focus to mutual aid, I've volunteered to make wellness check calls.

I'm still listening to around a hundred podcast episodes a week. I've read a half-dozen books, but finished none of them. I've become near-religous in my rooftop observance of the hour around sunset.

We've entombed ourselves. Self-isolation was a trend since at least the creation of the suburb, and now I worry it will accelerate, and rise to new heights. New heights of slate, and marble, and granite, piled on top of the warm dirt pits we call our lives, as we decompose in security.

This is the sort of thought that continuous inactivity leads me to, and the sort of feeling I get from squeezing my social interactions through branded products and services. And I feel a great pressure to not share these kinds of thoughts and feelings on those products and services. I feel like I'm supposed to be embarrassed of my frustration and sadness, and that unless I use it to contrast with some more recent happy event, or an uplifting call to support a cause, or a new distracting parasocial activity - like everyone sharing the 17th-most-recent image they have on their phone, or a zoom call where we play dress-up - unless I can segue to a satisfying positive emotional note, I'm supposed to keep it to myself.

In short, I'm in mourning.

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