People are saying how much has changed in just a few weeks. Suddenly people are at home, with their children full time, getting food has become more like foraging, socialisation has stopped and the government is acting completely out of character. So much has changed.
But from here, where I’ve been working from home for years, so little has changed. Being a technical writer, with creative ambitions, the view from my tiny, windowless home office is utterly unchanged.
I’ve often been the recluse. At times I’d not venture out for days, sometimes up to a week. Between jobs I’d withdraw even more so that Monday mornings would pass without the dread experienced by others; bank holidays were meaningless. Even without a job I’d still shuffle into my converted store room to sit at my laptop to ‘create.’ People would tell me I ought to get out more.
I hear of all the changes for people, time to learn a language, learn to juggle, post comedy videos, it seems they’re all having a ball—although I’m sure they’re not. Here nothing’s changed. The project I’m working on is still late, as it has been for months. We’re still struggling with failing IT systems, attempting to understand duties of those who have jumped ship, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous management decisions. The multinational that I work for is still sticking to the original unrealistic product launch deadline that they set two years ago and so the pressure to work more, get more done. For heaven’s sake nobody will turn up to the show room in May! The stress in the windowless office is certainly unchanged. I imagine my cortisol levels are through the roof just when I want the opposite. Work still eats time, and more than all of my energy. I don’t have the oomph for the creative great work, so that hasn’t changed.
I used to not go out for days, but that was by choice. Now I’m confined by asthma so I suppose that’s a change. I’ve recently been told I’m especially vulnerable. My sister delivers the occasional food parcel while I’m waiting for the government to get in touch. She stands at the end of the path and doesn’t dare approach, so that’s a change.
Now I wonder what it’s like out there. Before I was told I was so vulnerable I went to the cash machine to pay for food donations and ‘outside’ seemed threatening. That was a change. I wonder what it’s like to visit the supermarket. My muse tells me they have tape on the floor. I’d like to see that. I talk to her more now, which is a change for the better, but I don’t get to see her at weekends.
I miss her.
Today I disinfected my groceries, I’ve never done that before. Are my naan breads going to kill me? I’ve just started a pension but, being prone to chest infections, I wonder if I’m wasting my money. Have I got time to finish my great work? That’s the biggest change.