There is a book, a memoir by Wendy Parkins, that has been sitting on the fold-down oak hall table opposite my bedroom for over a month, in the appointed position for objects that are due for return. It didn’t beat the lock-down and so it sits, mute, uncannily prescient, and currently a triumphant personal declaration. Every morning, so far, I’m alive. For now.
The book’s title has captured a potent truth. For here I am, self-protecting by order, sealed in my home in a transformed world, where every morning I hear of tens of thousands more who are no longer alive. They are the mounting daily toll of the dead. This is news to no one, yet as I read it again, punched into words on my computer, I find myself reeling. Just two months ago, I sat under the canopy of a sprawling sycamore at the bach, encircled by friends. From memory, no-one made mention of the plague that was to come. We simply had no idea.
Right now there are now more people in lock-down than were alive during World War 2. I’m sharing the experience of confinement with 2.6 billion other humans. I find this out on Google, as I flail for information that will anchor this experience for me. But of course that doesn’t anchor me at all. If anything I feel even more unmoored, less able to situate myself in relation to anything I once knew to be true. The big picture has lost its edges.