Quarantine Hotel: Day Six – Mambo!

Life’s just getting better and better. It might be Monday morning for the rest of Sydney, but the three of us are still kicking back on the Tacoma weekend – no school, no emails.

So instead we party! Well, I do, anyway.

woman in mirror

The fun begins, ironically, with the hotel manager. Evidently he feels guilty about asking me to take down my art project (aka “STUCK IN QUARANTINE” sign) yesterday, because at 8:30am there’s a door-knock delivery of a coloring-in package.

That’s right. A zip-lock bag containing a butterfly-themed “Colouring for Grownups” book (don’t panic, Aussie spelling there), pencils, a picture book of “Koby the Koala’s Sydney Adventures” with the paper 3D glasses to go with it, and a nifty stacking six-color crayon, just like I had when I was seven. Oh, and a thoughtful packet of ear plugs and Sleep Mist spray.

I can’t decide whether to be grateful or slightly offended. I toss the packet on top of the games and badminton rackets, and go back to my coffee.

People-watching is a major activity in quarantine, and I’m getting a thrill from seeing all the little kids trotting off to school – something I haven’t witnessed at home for exactly a year now. I’m pondering my own son’s return to in-person school – will we all get Covid? – when he lovingly interrupts my reverie.

“Can you peel me an orange?”

I sit up, excited. Finally, someone’s eating the fruit!

“Here, let me show you – you know, ‘teach a man to fish’ and all that – “

“No, I just want you to do it for me.”

Then he grabs four other oranges and starts juggling. I remember all the tips I’ve read for surviving quarantine: ‘Learn a new skill!’ was near the top. I do want to learn, but I can also see some problems with dropping actual oranges repeatedly on the hotel carpet.

The manager probably wouldn’t be too impressed, either.

I start to peel.

Inspired that I actually want to do this, though, my son wads up three pairs of socks and starts me off with two of them. He’s a patient teacher. I progress to three and get one successful cascade before dropping everything.

I go back to reading the news. He eats the orange, which was the whole point, after all.

Lunch is pumpkin-beet-feta salad, same as Day Zero. We must have finished up the rotation. Out on the balcony it’s 88 degrees F (32C) and climbing. We stare into the haze of fig tree branches, thinking wistfully of the beach.

Then I hoist myself to my feet – my Tacoma friends are holding a surprise Zoom birthday party for one of our group and I have a karaoke to prepare.

Delicately, I stack eight books next to the bathroom sink and balance my laptop on them against the mirror. The kids’ towels are in frame, so I toss them on the floor. Grabbing my daughter’s black turtleneck and a skirt, I blow-dry my hair into some approximation of a ‘60s beehive and practice my song with a hairbrush mike: “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen (rewritten with words for my friend). The final touch – a badminton racket for the guitar solo.

The rest of the afternoon wafts by in a summer daze. I join a Sydney friend for a cocktail Zoom, improvising with a pear slice on my glass of pinot grigio since we don’t have lemons. We chat about global warming, then I get kicked off the Zoom as my phone dies from the heat.

Dance workout time! My daughter and I crank up the AC and laugh our way through a Latin dance workout. I’m about as skilled at mambo as I am at juggling but hey – it’s extra bonding time and will make us both feel better. Plus it means I can scarf down tonight’s gnocchi and passionfruit slice without feeling quite as guilty.

As the kids wind down, I take my flute onto the balcony and float through some Celtic tunes in the warm, sultry darkness. All is silent from the fig tree, and the scatterings of late commuters pass by without pausing. Solitude cocoons me, like the resonance of my balcony music.

The notes hover, then vanish, leaving only a memory of passionfruit-tinged sweetness.

Published by roseponnekanti

Writer, multimedia storyteller, musician.

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