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As the phrase “social distancing,” has become a new, ominous part of our vernacular, I’ve heard an understandable amount of wringing and solemn but depressive consent on Twitter and from friends.
After all, staying confined to our homes is something almost un-American — an unnatural deprivation of the social and consumerist culture that marks our very identities. Here in El Salvador, it defies the local culture, too. Days, here, are typically marked by trips to multiple independent vendors of eggs, produce, tortillas, bread. Breaks for lunch in the neighborhood park, the nucleus of all activity. Stopping for a minuta at the cart on your way home.
Still, when I first heard that we might need to hunker down, I secretly loved the idea. I’ve always thought I’d do pretty well amidst the bowels of a bomb shelter or in the clutches of zombie apocalypse. Being alone, cooking off of spare ingredients and endlessly entertaining oneself while managing a routine-like schedule? Yeah, we’ve basically just described my personality.
Even as a world traveler, I’ve still maintained the heart of a hermit, gleefully hibernating for days at a time in the midst of editing and writing sessions, cooking with whatever I have on hand and cranking up the music to dance, sola.
When I first wrote this column, a few days ago, I was feeling optimistic. Wartime Amelia and Peacetime Amelia are not that different, I wrote.
However, I’d just been in the midst of a semi-hibernation when the news hit — knowing I had some national and international travel coming up, and attempting to grind and save money as much as possible. I was about at even my own break point. Now, a week into this new reality, it feels different, heavy. The international airport in El Salvador has now closed, cutting off the burgeoning idea that I might venture home. I feel far away from family and friends and — though plans to lift these quarantine measures and reopen the airport are currently scheduled just over two weeks away — I can’t help but wonder just how long it might be until I’m truly able to go. Thinking worst-case scenarios is not necessarily helpful, but they’ve likely crossed most of our minds.
So in an effort to be helpful during this time of solidarity, I thought I’d share some ideas for those of you secluded in your homes for whom hermit-ing might not come so naturally. And in doing so, I hope to remind myself. All right, quarantine, here we go. Let’s do this.
Continue reading ➞ Quarantined: 14 ideas to keep you from losing your mind at home