Corona Diaries

Image © Zola Gorgon 2020

by Zola Gorgon April 3, 2020

I’m not even supposed to be in this flat, or anywhere, really, but since there’s a housing crisis going on, I went into quarantine in my friend’s flat where I’ve been sleeping on the couch for two months. For the first few days I made a lot of to do lists. The lists would say things like “eat tortellini” and “play RollerCoaster Tycoon 2” so that I could feel productive when I crossed out things I was, inevitably, going to do anyway. But now I’ve given up on that feeling. There really is nothing to do.

Anticipating mealtime as the highlight of my day makes me feel more sympathy for dogs.

I knew I wouldn’t be making money in Berlin for a long time. More than anything else, I wanted to go home to my family and watch my mum do normal things in the garden, watch HBO, harass my brother, eat sandwiches. But I had a tickle in my throat and a mild fever that neither seemed to leave nor commit itself, so I stayed in Berlin. I’m sure I’ve already done a lifetime’s work of spreading diseases. My bosses used to get mad if I called in sick so I’ve often pretended not to be, choking back coughs and holding back snot while touching unsuspecting customers. It seemed like the least I could do to pull myself out of society for a while. I’ve done so many stupid, reckless things, but I still wish I’d done more, different ones, now that I no longer can.

Passing through his room after a long day of not really speaking, I said to my friend, “How about having a glass of wine on the balcony?”

“How about doing just that,” he said.

It was probably the first day of spring. The air felt holy with the promise of happiness and youth. I looked down Müllerstraße – the Champs Elysees of Weddingwishing I was in love and that someone was waiting for me to come to them. Around this time of year, rebellious teens ought to be smoking their first cigarettes under motorway bridges in the moist spring air. Were they out there, right now, smoking in secret? I said, “Isn’t it funny that we’re stuck here, in a house with hundreds of people, but they’re such strangers to us that we might as well be alone on a mountain.” It felt more like we were on a summer holiday from school than in quarantine during an epidemic.

Then my friend said, “What do you think happens after we die?”

“I don’t know,” I said, but it was obvious that he was keen to say something, and because he’s often mysterious, I wanted him to. “What do you think?”

“I’ve started to understand that there is nothing. I mean, really nothing. I was reading that book, where Barrabas meets the man Jesus raised from the dead. And he asks him, what was being dead like? And he says it’s nothing.”

“I’m agnostic on this matter,” I said. “I read that, since energy never disappears, only moves around or whatever, all the energy in your body goes back into the air around you at the moment of death, which I found romantic. But my friend who’s a nurse said the energy mainly leaves you in the form of heat, in your shit.”

According to some, the human ego takes forty days to disintegrate after death, during which it sometimes remembers confused parts of itself before forgetting them forever. I once had a friend who died. At first all the things in the world suggested her existence, everything; she was always with me. Then one day after the funeral, I woke up and her presence was gone. And in a way that was worse, but I couldn’t be sad about it, and now those feelings are secret, even to me. In numbing your pain, you numb something else, too. I just don’t know what to do about a thing like that. It’s hard to comprehend that people really do die, on the first day of spring or any day.

After the wine, my friend became wistful, and started saying things like, “If I’d known when I saw you, in the smoking square in high school, that in the future we’d be this situation…” and the conversation turned to other things besides death. We played Bolero from the shitty speakers on his laptop, and the nasty old man who lives upstairs and whom I’ve never seen but who constantly bangs on the ceiling when we’re having fun started banging on the ceiling. I’ve often wished, with casual malice, that he’d die. We ought to buy some seeds and plant them on the balcony. Maybe the passing of time would feel more meaningful if we could watch something grow. Eventually the implication of numbers and of the ambulance sirens, visions of lonely suffocating deaths, will hit me like a brick in the head.



The cursed offspring of a voluptuous milkmaid and a lecherous goblin, artist/performer/writer Zola Gorgon lives in Berlin.


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