I’m not sure why I decide to put on fancy clothes today – well, a skirt, anyway – but it sets the tone for the whole day. Of course, it’s Sunday, even in quarantine.
Also, all my leggings and T-shirts are in the laundry.
The day starts well enough with coffee, croissants and a Covid test at 8:30am. The nurses show up in full PPE, which is a good thing since the nasal swab makes my poor son splutter, sneeze and cough, eyes streaming from triggered allergies. I think for the umpteenth time how glad I am not to be a nurse. These two gaze with the dispassionate, sympathetic gaze of people who’ve been vaccinated.
The kid attempt to go back to sleep, and I chug away at a hefty grant application.
Then a knock – Lamingtons! How fancy is that?! (Cultural explainer: Lamingtons are a beloved Aussie cake coated in chocolate and coconut. Divine.)
“I suppose you want a photo for the blog,” says my son. How did he guess??
Then there’s another knock, with two packets of Twisties. This is unbelievable.
“They’re basically Fritos,” says my daughter, examining the classic red-and-yellow packets with a critical eye.
“No no no no, they’re WAY superior to Fritos.”
We take our fancy lamington morning tea out to the balcony, watching a gentle parade of Sunday pedestrians in fancy clothes: a long pin-striped navy dress, white cardigans, flowery Indian salwar kameez, a toddler in pale blue hat.
I attempt to attend livestream church but the wifi freezes, so we sight-read some flute/violin duets instead: Brahms, Bach, Loeillet. Fancy stuff.
The tone goes rapidly downhill after lunch. Angry accusations of sniffing while someone else was trying to sleep, lack of sympathy at the allergies causing the sniffing. It escalates into a massive screaming argument. I give up trying to rein it in and try hiding on the balcony. It doesn’t help.
Then there’s a knock at the door – it’s the police. The two officers politely ask what the argument’s about, and I seize the opportunity.
“Hey kids,” I call, relishing the moment. “The police are here. They’d like you to come and explain the argument.”
Shuffling feet, sheepish voices, some hesitant phrases that trail off. “It’s about – “ “Well, he was sniffing loudly – “ “She yelled at me – “ and finally, “It’s basically about people not respecting other people.”
I nod heartily. “Yes, that’s what I think too.”
The officers keep admirably straight faces, and talk seriously to the kids. We’ve got to respect each other, de-escalate, not long to go now, wouldn’t want to be called up for a domestic violence situation, that would mean separation, wouldn’t want to start quarantine all over again, would we?
We shake our heads in unison. No, we wouldn’t. I thank the cops and shut the door.
We go back to the living room, and the silence is golden.
After lunch, some birdsong floats through the balcony door – a series of pure, sweet high Fs. I hum along, pull out my flute to get the pitch. My son laughs.
“That’s so annoying. Getting out your flute.”
“Really,” I say. “I’ll make a note of that.”
“Yes, and you can put it in your blog.”
I’m sure I’ve irritated a lot of people in my musical career, but this is a first – achieving annoyingness simply by unpacking my instrument.
I pull out the ukulele instead and work on a spoof quarantine version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Eyes roll.
Mum and Dad call: They’re loving the ukulele songs. Hah. Dad went for a swim yesterday and is feeling better, so that’s one good thing.
I plug away at the grant application, taking juggling breaks. During one inspired moment we even try out a five-ball two-person routine and manage to get four or five catches – amazing!
My nephew drops off more supplies (chocolate, salt and vinegar chips, hard cider), we chat over the balcony and then launch into a Taylor Swift ballet workout.
It’s surprisingly fun, and I point my toes, feeling fancy again.
We tuck into gnocchi alfredo for dinner, followed by a cider and a family game – all three of us this time. No sniffing or yelling.
One more full day to go – then freedom Tuesday morning, all going well with today’s Covid test. Let’s hope we last.
I found myself in quarantine
I learned to play the ukulele
But you don’t really like my music, do ya?
I learned some chords, the fourth, the fifth,
The minor falls, the major lifts,
And then I started playing “Hallelujah”
The first few days were kind of fun
We had a balcony in the sun
I wrote a blog that seemed like it amused ya,
We played some games, we grew our hair,
We sat out on our balcony chair,
And from our lips there came a Hallelujah
We said our thanks to God above,
We tried to show each other love,
But it’s not easy when your kids outgrew ya
We got annoyed, we had a fight,
Some days we couldn’t see the light
This song was just a broken Hallelujah
Each day felt like the one before
We knew the room, we paced the floor
We did our work, we called you if we knew ya,
We juggled balls, we jumped the rope,
We tried to hang on to our hope
That one day we’d have freedom, hallelujah
Now we’re nearly there at Day Fourteen
We’ve all survived the quarantine
I’ve told the truth, I wouldn’t try to fool ya,
We have a Covid test to clear
And then we’ll walk right out of here
And sing aloud a grateful hallelujah!
(With apologies to Leonard Cohen, who never had to go through hotel quarantine.)