You’ve probably heard the fortune-teller’s warning to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play of the same name: “Beware the Ides of March.” Not only did Shakespeare’s words stick, they branded the phrase—and the date, March 15th—with a dark and ominous connotation. It’s likely that many people who use the phrase today don’t actually know its true origin. In fact, just about every pop culture reference to the Ides makes it seem like the day itself is cursed. So how apropos that this year, March 15th marked the first official day of quarantine in our household.
Some days are diamonds. Some days are rocks.
Fifty-three days ago on March 14th, I went out and ran errands without a mask, without gloves and with a lot of trepidation. Had I known it would be the last time I would be able to go out with such freedom and naiveté, I would’ve appreciated it more. I probably would have treated myself to a nice lunch out, a glass of wine at a bar, or some quality time at a spa. But I didn’t do any of that. Hell, I SHOULD HAVE gotten a haircut and a waxing. And, good lord, I wish I had appreciated the silence in my car as I drove around alone. But alas, I did none of those things.
See, my errands were not your standard, pre-pandemic, stockpiling adventures. I had already purchased canned tuna, snacks galore, and three new iPads. What else did I need? Toilet paper? Please….we had about 25 rolls in stock at the house. No need for hoarding here. I mean, how long could we possibly be home? How long could this conceivably go on for? Silly, silly girl.
But that Saturday I wasn’t thinking about viruses, Lysol or masks. All the parking lots were filled with cars, stores were all open and bustling, people were all closer than six feet apart and I was driving around checking things off a to-do list I never thought I’d have. I was buying furniture and housewares for my husbands new apartment.
Sundowns are golden then fade away.
So here’s the thing, I’m not sure that there’s ever a “good” time to separate from ones spouse. In our case, we made the call a mere ten days prior to quarantine. We found my husband an apartment nearby, broke the news to our families, and did the unimaginable when we sat our three young children down to deliver the most difficult message of our lives. And then Covid-19 came prancing into our world. The schools made the decision to close, my husbands office shuttered their doors, and all of a sudden, we were all stuck under the same roof. Well, this is going to be interesting.
It is very important to note that our separation is amicable. We explained to our children that Mommy and Daddy make better friends than a married couple. This is true. And though our new kind of friendship is in its early developmental stages, we believe it will prove to be more durable than our marriage. So while most people around us were trying to wrap their heads around homeschooling, Instacart and sewing masks, we were learning how to navigate a separation and hustling to furnish his new apartment. We needed to get this second residence up and running so we weren’t left under the same roof to Dateline one another. We needed to shelter in place…. but separately.
It’s funny what a good bit of time stuck at home will do to a person. One of the first things I did was rent a dumpster. Okay, that’s not entirely true. The first thing I did was watch Tiger King. I’m only human, for crying out loud. So after watching ALL that is SO wrong but SO right about America, the second thing I decided to do was clean some house. Metaphor, anyone? I filled that dumpster to the top and took great joy in launching my trash into it. I proudly made my children watch me and encouraged all my friends to hurl their junk into it, as it is good for the soul. I started devouring books, dancing around the kitchen to my favorite tunes again, turned my dining room into a classroom, dusted off that teacher hat, and cleaned out cupboards, drawers and closets with Marie Kondo fervor. All of these proved to be very successful distractions.
Sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you cry.
The exhaustion that I feel at night after that final goodnight to the kids is extraordinary. I often envision sipping on a nice glass of red, curling up with a good book and watching another couple episodes of Schitt’s Creek. My moment of zen, if you will. What ends up happening is that I pour a glass of wine that pathetically sits on my coffee table while I pass out sprawled across my couch, using my dog as a pillow. Zero wine is consumed, not a page is read and I inevitably have to scroll back five episodes the next night so I can pick up where I left off on my series. It’s after I drag myself upstairs with one eye open and crawl into bed that the deafening silence echos through the air. How did I get here?
Turns out I’ve been putting up walls for years, perhaps even since I was a young child. Walls are made for protecting and providing privacy. When we put up a wall we are enclosing something and shutting off connection or contact with something (somebody) else. Walls may seem like a good idea in some instances, just ask our President. But the trouble with most walls is that they often have a lot of cracks and will eventually crumble. Most recently my walls proved to be a convincing disguise of what was actually happening in my real life. Ain’t nothing like a pandemic and the dissolution of a marriage to break them all down.
All around your island, there’s a barricade.
That keeps out the danger, that holds in the pain.
Earlier I mentioned that many folks probably don’t know the origin of the Ides of March. Despite the reputation of foreshadowing doom and gloom, it actually has a non-threatening origin story. Ides simply referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th. In fact, the Ides of March once signified the new year, which typically means celebrating and rejoicing.
I’m quarantined and homeschooling three snack-destroying ingrates. I’m constantly walking a 100 pound dog to escape said ingrates. I’m vacuuming, cleaning, and dusting like it serves an actual purpose. I’m cooking one thousand meals a day and gaining weight by the second. I’m on a solid every other day showering schedule and running out of cute sweatpants, if there is such a thing. I’m trying to meander my way through a separation and a friendship with my spouse. To many, it might not sound like there’s an awful lot to celebrate. But folks, it’s all about perspective. After a long year, a couple of soul-searching months, and 53 days of quarantine, it’s becoming evident that these walls never protected me at all. Time to start breaking them down brick by brick.
Some things are over. Some things go on.
Part of me you carry, part of me is gone.