In Captivity: Week 1

In Captivity: Week 1

It’s been a busy week in captivity. Lots of things to work out about the new regime of solitude and zealous cleanliness. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve not been a slob in the past. But my hygiene standards have reached new, almost super-human levels. There are unwelcome side effects, like my dry, scaly hands. I fear a return to some primordial and aquatic form of life from my wrists down. 

The cleaning business is more complicated than I expected. There’s always a little bit of doubt about whether or not every corner or surface has been dealt with or if I’ve laid something down momentarily and in error so that I have to clean it a second time. I suppose it will all become second nature by and by. Taking in the post or any deliveries, for example. I slip on the rubber gloves, wipe things before opening them up but then where do I lay the wrapping material down while I extract the item? Then where do I lay the item while I safely slip the packaging into the recycling box and hope whatever might linger there is gone by the time the dustmen come to pick it up – or that they’ll be wearing gloves? With a large package you can get yourself into some awkward positions – head down, bum in the air, left arm at full stretch to reach a safe surface while the right one anchors you. Thank goodness I’m keeping up solo sessions of Pilates and yoga…

There’s comedy. If only it weren’t so serious. 

Time has flown by though I have little to show for it. I know there’s been a lot of pottering. It’s felt like idling time: engine running but no forward movement. Adjusting to the outward things, the practicalities, is relatively easy. The internal adjustments are more difficult. After the shock, the novelty in a sense, there’s the creeping realisation that life needs to change. That the change is profound. And that I recognise some fear running underneath. It challenges my sense of equilibrium. I think it will all take a while to settle. 

So, the practicalities are a kindness in a way. A refuge.

Like the many snatched half hours spent scanning the digital world for loo roll. Unsuccessfully hitherto. Thankfully, we’re OK for the short-term, while contemplating the option of doing a deal with our neighbour to relieve her of her Daily Mail every couple of days. They write the stuff so why not wipe the stuff too? If you get my drift.

Had my first foray into online grocery shopping, which was not wholly successful either not just because the loo rolls failed to materialise. My shopping mind is visual and spatial as is my internal audit of the fridge and the kitchen cupboards before I set out. Admittedly, this is not always fool-proof, so, yes, I always go to the supermarket with a list. But my lists leave scope for improvisation. I’m a very messy cook who likes to go off script. The same applies to buying food. And, like eating, food shopping is a highly visual, three-dimensional experience for me. I blame my mother – her perfectly-formed angel cakes dusted with icing sugar set on a pretty plate with a paper doily if guests were in impressed on me that looks are important. And if it looks good it usually tastes better. So, my relationship with food is, I’m afraid, significantly based on looks. I know – I’m just a superficial gal! But there you have it. So, I have learned something about myself in this first week of the new world order. Not sure it’s a sign of personal growth or even a cause for celebration. But it’s something.

Anyway, the delivery arrived and I will have to give some thought to what to do with the three tubes of tomato puree and the litre of passata. Honestly, I wasn’t stockpiling. I was just incompetent. At least they’ll last. The two oversize bags of parsley were a particular concern until a little window with a picture of tabbouleh salad popped into my head. Something for a lunch one day after the five enormous leeks have been transformed into a soup. You see, you can click on the little picture of leeks but you can’t tell them to only deliver three if they’re HUGE. As well as coming to terms with a degree of online incompetence, there has also been the entirely novel experience of unpacking the groceries wearing rubber gloves and having to wash them. Somehow, I had never imagined a day when I would be washing a packet of dried pasta. It felt very strange. 

I have a sense, as I write, that I’m casting about, searching for some humour. Something to make this very odd moment feel human, earthly. Because some of the time it feels other-worldly, as if life has slipped into another dimension. But I know it’s not; I know it hasn’t.

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