Corona Diaries

Image © Tihana Romanić 2020

by Tihana Romanić April 9, 2020

Good Day

When I woke up it was just another day. I did not read any messages until I had completed my morning routine. A cup of warm lemon water, meditating, eating my breakfast and having a cup of coffee. That´s a new rule, no messages, no news before coffee. I learned my lesson last Friday. I read the news first thing in the morning. It said that Berlin may be heading towards a curfew. A curfew could mean no running, and running is my sanity. I read the news and fell apart. I cried for seven hours. Seven. You read that right. On and off, for seven hours. An hour for each day I was self-isolating, maybe.

I am a long-distance runner. It´s a mental health thing, has nothing to do with fitness. So, now I protect my mental health by not reading the news before I am ready. Ready to stay calm. To remember to breathe. And not fall apart. So, only then I checked on my elderly parents who are in a lockdown in Serbia. My mother is 80 and my father is 75. I hope to see them again. They had sent a message earlier in the morning. The message said: ‘We are healthy and wish you a calm day.’ I looked at Whatsapp, Facebook, and Instagram, and saw that my friends were all OK. Or so they said. Then I checked emails from one of the universities where I work, then opened Microsoft Teams from the same university and checked if students had completed their assignment. Then I opened my other work email, and other Teams account, and read all the messages. There were many. I did some work, and then logged into zoom for a meeting. The sun was shining, so I sat close to the window. It was warm and comfortable. I had another cup of coffee, a quick lunch, did more work, virtually. Only twelve days ago I was a teacher. In real, not virtual, life. I saw countless numbers of students, day in and day out. I had colleagues and friends whom I met and spoke to. In real life. In the evening I sometimes wrote stories on my laptop. Now I sit and work all day on two different laptops, an iPad, and my phone, across several platforms, and I hate them all. I can´t sit and write my stories in the evening, not on my laptop. It´s all too much. I can´t see another device. I want papirka.

My family told me a story. I was five and I shouted out to my brother:

Give me papirka!’

What do you want?’

Papirka! Give me papirka!’, allegedly I insisted.

I don´t know what papirka is. What do you want?’

I have put two words into one. Papir and olovka. Papirka. Serbian for pen and paper. I want papirka again.

I have been self-isolating for 12 days now. Before I went into self-isolation I went to a supermarket. Then I had to go to four other supermarkets trying to find some food. Simple stuff, some rice and porridge. I found some rice in the fifth supermarket, no porridge. All the shelves were empty. Not just porridge, almost everything was gone. Not to feel defeated, I bought what I did find. Two dozen red roses, a bottle of crémant, a tub of strawberry cheesecake ice-cream, and lots of blueberries. No one seemed to care about blueberries. I thought, well, I can probably survive just fine on blueberries. They are a superfood. I read that somewhere.

In the past 12 days I went out three times. I went for a run and I went to a pharmacy to buy some paracetamol, because I never have any meds at home, and you never know. I mean, now you never know. Before I never cared if you never knew. If you were to get a fever, you would just have a fever, get over it, move on. I don´t like meds. Meds like paracetamol. But I do have Hashimoto’s, and Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune condition, and I don´t know, maybe I need to have at least some paracetamol at home. Maybe I am what they call – vulnerable. With an underlying health condition. So, not because paracetamol helps with Hashimoto’s, but because of the virus. I also went to a supermarket once again. That time I did find some porridge. I now have enough porridge not to have to go to a supermarket again for a couple of weeks. That´s a relief, though I have already eaten all the blueberries. Going to a supermarket means other people. People who may have the virus. People who may get the virus from me. Maybe I have it?

I have not spoken to anyone for 12 days. In real life. I do speak to many people every day, just online. But today was a special day. I had put on some outdoor clothes (because now I make sure that I have my outdoor clothes and my indoor clothes) and I put my passport in my back pocket, because that´s what we do now. But at least we can still go out. Just not far from home. That´s why in my passport I now also carry my Meldebescheinigung. A piece of paper that confirms my registered address.

It was warm and sunny, but I took the gloves with me. When you wear gloves, you can carefully take them off and touch your face. But only in an emergency. I learned this on my first corona run. Ever since the virus I no longer go for runs with my running partner. I go alone on what I now call corona runs. I was less than a kilometer from being back home, when a bug flew into my right eye. I stopped in terror. What now? I have touched the handles on two doors to get out of the building. I could not remember if I touched them just with one, or both hands? Those doors are quite heavy and sometimes I need both hands to pull them open. Fuck. Shit. I think I said those words out loud. But there was no one to hear me swear. Because we are all self-isolating and social distancing. I managed to get a tissue out of my pocket and tried to get the bug out with the tissue. It did not work. I gave up. I survived (for now), but the bug did not make it. So now when I go for a run, I take hand sanitizer and I wear gloves. You never know. There may be another collision with a bug.

Today I was prepared. I wore gloves. I was not going for a run, not going to a pharmacy nor to a supermarket. I cycled. Yes, I cycled! A whole 4 kilometers to meet a friend. When I saw my friend holding his bike and waiting for me, I waved, stopped two meters away, got off my bike and off we went. A whole hour. We walked and talked, in real life, two meters apart, in the sunshine, in a park, for an hour. I told you it was a special day. I don´t know if there will be, or when, another special day, but today was a good day, a special day. In real life.
I am alone
I touch my nose
and my mouth
I go over it slowly

My fingers velvet soft
Like a foam on top of my beer pint
Making sure nails
Sharp as glass
Do not touch the skin

I stay soft
I stay smooth
I touch my lips and
My cheeks

I tremble
My lips quiver
My heart skips
I get wet
I want to go down
On myself
And I do
Because I can
Because I am alone
And my hands are washed
For twenty seconds
Just like the video showed
From all sides

I go wash them again
Just because I remember
The soap is smooth
And I add a lump of coconut oil
So it slides
My fingers between each other
Just like the video showed
Then I take myself back to the living room
On the couch
Where the sun gets in
And I have you 

I´m just kidding
I am alone
I touch my nose
And my mouth
I go over it
And rough
Until I cry.
After deferring to the point of no return her PhD on an obscure Czech philosopher whom she still finds fascinating Tihana Romanić moved from London to Berlin in 2007 where she plans to live happily ever after. When she is not teaching she cannot be found anywhere because she is either training for a marathon, writing, or taking photographs. You can follow her on IG @anahit_sins.

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