I come hardwired with an authority problem.
As a teenager and young adult, I thought that made me more daring and interesting. A real rebel. As a forty-four year old woman, I think it’s kind of embarrassing that my first impulse is to argue with anyone who tells me what I can’t do (or worse, what I SHOULD do). It’s so pronounced that the fastest way to get me to do a thing (eg: quit smoking, write a novel, start running, buy a house, etc) is to tell me I can’t or won’t. It takes real effort for me to believe that any advice is not just a challenge or double dog dare to do the opposite. It takes a while for me to get that Rules are sometimes useful, occasionally for the greater good, and not just a golden opportunity for creative defiance.
It took me until approximately today (4 weeks, four days) into quarantine to muddle out that my failure to handle people telling me what to do with even a modicum of grace is big part of why all this has been tough for me. I don’t like Rules. I really don’t like being told Rules by old white dudes in ties. I don’t being compliant. I don’t like feeling compliant. I really hate accepting that This Is The Only Way Things Can Be Because there’s got to be a work around, right? A loophole? A tunnel under the dungeon? A middle finger and a daring escape?
To be clear, I have been following The Rules. These Rules. I have not left the house, save to walk around the neighborhood, buy groceries (thrice) and pick curbside takeout (a couple of times) in over a month. I haven’t had friends over. I haven’t visited friends. I haven’t seen family. I haven’t partaken in inessential services. I haven’t left town. I haven’t spent money on anything fun. I haven’t really done anything fun, at all, save the occasional adult beverage and the somewhat less occasional solo late night dance party.
And I hate it. I hate the life following the rules affords me almost as much as I hate thinking of myself as the kind of person that follows rules.But for all I hate The Rules, I’m absolutely 100 % sure I hate the idea of becoming the embarrassing drunk aunt in the virus transmission death conga line even more. Like more by a factor of a bajillion. I don’t want to unintentionally kill somebody, who could be somebody I love, who could be someone someone else loves. I don’t want to unintentionally get someone sick. I don’t want to feel like Raskolnikov because I flouted the stupid rules for five minutes of ultimately trivial jollies. So yeah, I’m not going anywhere. I’m following orders. And I will continue to do so until . . . I mean, your guess is as good as mine, but I’m hopeful we’ll be paroled sometime before my hair has grown out into a Ronnie Dobbs-level mullet (a risk) and I’m referring to myself in the third person while trying to seduce my household appliances (“Why did you spurn Alison’s romantic advances, you heartless washing machine!”)
So, for those that bristle and buck at the rules, I feel you. Every single time I hear “Stay Home” AS IF I’M NOT ALREADY DOING IT, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. And my inner teenager wants to be a real brat and remind you that I HEARD YOU THE FIRST FIVE HUNDRED TIMES, MOM. GOD! And then maybe slam the bedroom door and turn the music up really loud and rage cry into my pillow and write in my journal about how unfair life is. Because honestly, I got nothing better to do and I’m not going anywhere else.
Storms are coming and I’ve been alerted power might go out tonight. If you don’t hear from me for a day or two, it’s probably because I’m stranded alone in the dark, trying to figure out how much money I’ll lose on spoiled groceries and day-drinking Scotch while dressing up the lamps and pretending they’re my friends. You probably don’t need to HAZMAT-suit-up and drop by to see if the situation has devolved into full “Marie Provost” for at least a few days (though if it has, you’re welcome to the leftover toilet paper).
Picture today of me on Easter Sunday, back when I was still legit cute, sometime around the end of Reagan’s first term.
As of this writing, 537, 873 people have recovered from COVID-19