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Aurelie Sheehan

I’ve been lucky. My close friends and family have stayed healthy, and my husband and I have, of late, relaxed into quarantine, eating good bread, drinking good coffee. To quarantine is to think abstractly, to try and recognize the difference between fear and planning. To quarantine is to picture the future, to believe in it. In that place, we’re hugging, swimming, drinking together smushed close in front of a fireplace. The realities do rain down a bit, occasionally: furlough from my university, absences where once there were parties. To quarantine has also meant not thinking of the future, not thinking of anything besides coffee or almonds or a shower. It has meant pacing over to the refrigerator and staring into it. What have you bought that will take away this fierce boredom, Mommy?

In this simultaneously abstract and sensory Today, crimes are occurring. I’m watching, participating in, protests. There is so much to protest. If I listed all the civil-rights crimes and environmental crimes and humanitarian crimes, I could make a wall as tall as the wall. I’m sitting here, six feet from nothing, understanding the weight of my complicity, hidden in the fever of my inadequacy. When you are in quarantine you realize how big you are, after all, in these tiny rooms. How did my generation, how did I, build this place? Why didn’t I think of going out and beheading the Columbus statue myself, even once, in these past decades?

My shoulders are tightening up, so the circle of my reach is a doodle. My rotation of clothes seems to include mostly what’s on top of the dresser. My friends, are you out there? Our friendship and our fireside-chats live in my heart. My cat is on my lap as the mountains burn around me.

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