By Anna Jackson-Scott
Day one: Paris is quiet, the streets silent except the echo of lone footsteps clacking down the road. I look down my six floors and see a sole man carting what looks like a suitcase of food behind him, his face concealed by a white mask that matches the colour of his hair.
Across the street, I see my neighbours for the first time since I moved in a month ago, and wave. I’ve never seen them home before. It looks strange to see people actually living in these Parisian buildings - cooking, working, speaking on the phone. People look out of place silhouetted against decorative windows, framed in the dim interior light.
I start writing out my attestation to leave the house, it’s the first time this week. Pharmacy (tick), supermarket (tick), get fresh air (tick). I sign and date it, note my birthday, my address, and what time I left the house. Outside now, in the sun, people look at me sideways and we skirt each other like magnetised repellent fish, drifting in the sea.
In many ways I like the new quiet of the streets, but if I think about it too much, it starts to get weird. Arriving in Paris months before, I quickly wished everyone would go away. I wished I could take a break from the stresses of moving around this bustling hive, of moving house, changing jobs, taking the metro. I wished for time to read, to sit in the sun, to talk to my family. I wished for silence. I got what I wanted.
Day two: my flatmate spent yesterday crying. Another flatmate alternates between playing loud music and yelling at us to be quiet so she can sleep.
We watch two episodes of Atypical, the irritating mother going to the grocery store. The shelves full of pasta and eggs – eggs! I exclaim involuntarily, pointing. My local Franprix hasn’t has eggs or bread all week, the pasta shelf is virtually empty, and the only vegetables left on the shelf are capsicums.
I snap several pictures of the chimneys and Parisian balconies across the street – I even zoom in on a particularly interesting cluster and wait for the clouds to organise into an interesting formation. I sip my fourth cup of coffee and cough into my tissue, and try to ask google if the weight of coronavirus would feel the same as anxiety in my chest.
Day three: I’m worried about the right side of my face. Every afternoon I sit on the balcony as the sun follows its unchanging course across the sky, ripening one side of my face like the red side of a Braeburn. I make a similar trajectory, each day, from my bed to the kitchen to the lounge to the balcony, and then like a rewound tape, I end the day back in my bed once again. I watch my fingernails grow, though I myself have done nothing.
Making an Instagram story, I tell my followers that chimneys are “fascinating”; luckily only 80 of them saw it. No need to hashtag #cabinfever when I’m taking the same photo of unchanging chimneys each day.
How many things are immoveable on this earth? It’s something I come to ponder as I myself become one of them.
The cat comes to visit from next door. My flatmate comes running out to see him as usual, and then admonishes him for not coming to visit us yesterday.
5 doctors died today, shortening our already global shortage. It seems like a medical black hole is opening, swallowing our already insufficient numbers. It’s as if they’re being sucked in and killed off in an accidental, anti-intellectual wave.
Time for a flat meeting. As my flatmates say, we’ve only known each other for a few weeks – there’s bound to be issues. I myself have had no problems so far which means I’m probably the one annoying everyone else.
Afterwards, it’s back to the balcony to finish a postcard to my family in New Zealand, who in 48 hours will go into their own lockdown. Although I’m as far away from them as it is possible to be on earth, we’re all in the same situation after all.
Life in lockdown. Womankind approached its community to write about life in lockdown around the globe, notably a three-day diary of everyday life under the threat of COVID-19. Womankind is publishing these stories freely to show how the pandemic is affecting women from all over the globe - from New York, to Barcelona to Glastonbury.
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