Waterloo Region Tiny Isolation Stories: Chapter 1

“Isolation is not new for me. I have been through it before: from 2007, when I had my first baby, to 2016 when my third was born. For nine long years, I did not make any friends, meet likeminded people, or think of any social activity, let alone write. All I would do was to stay at home and take care of my kids. But now, even though I am socially distant amid this pandemic, I feel connected. The situation is very depressing, but this feeling that everyone is together in this isolation, and is equally vulnerable, somehow gives me peace.”

– Seemab Zahra, Kitchener

“I’m one of the lucky ones with a birthday during this global pandemic. Before everything became more serious, I had colleagues who travelled to the U.S., came back ill and came into the office. Our office mandated working from home almost immediately but I wasn’t sure if I was exposed to the virus. Since I didn’t want to risk getting my aging parents sick, I spent my birthday alone, with my two cats. Although it was one of the loneliest birthdays I’ve had, I am so grateful that my friends and family are safe.”

– Anonymous, Kitchener

“My parents live in Australia and we regularly Skype. Yesterday, I had to tell Mum to please just stay home at least a dozen times. She went to the grocery store. “Mum you told me you have enough food for a month so what could you possibly need?” ” I just needed brown sugar. I can’t bake without brown sugar.” So thats what I am dealing with. I can’t fly there right now and if I did I would be in quarantine for 14 days. At least my brother is there.”

– Kaylene, Waterloo

“I had a picture in my mind of how this would go. We’d pack up all our things, rent a truck, laugh as friends tried to move my couch through the front door, force my mom to help us clean, pay everyone afterwards with beer and pizza. This was our first place together; I’ve never lived with a significant other before. But it didn’t happen like that. We encouraged our friends and family to stay away. We cleaned and moved the boxes alone. We ordered pizza and drank beer, just the two of us, in our half-empty new home. Alone with him, I still felt hopeful for our future, while missing everyone else.”

– Beth, Waterloo

“At the beginning of March, I went on a coffee date with a guy I met online. This was before everything started shutting down. He had to travel for work to San Francisco, but cut his trip short when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Since he’s been in self-quarantine, we’ve literally been dating online and it has allowed us to get to know one another better and be more connected, despite never having made any physical contact – not even a handshake. I’m really looking forward to the day when we can finally share a hug!”

– Joanna, Kitchener

“We spent our first weeks of isolation packing up our place on Weber Street in hopes of new beginnings on Lancaster Street. Our last night there we ordered in sushi while watching TV on the floor and drinking wine straight out of the bottle because all the glasses were packed, and now that is one of my favourite memories at the old place. Now we’re getting settled in and it’s starting to feel like home. I’m ready for the boredom to set in. Because boredom in a home you love with the person you love is kind of wonderful.”

– Elise, Kitchener

“”Look in your driveway. Right now.” We ran to the door from various floors of our house as soon as we read your text. It dawned on us that we hadn’t had a reason to step outside in over two days. There you were. There you all were. Standing with the kids at the end of our driveway (a safe distance away) with signs strategically placed to read, “we love you.” We love you too. Thanks for stopping in Huron Village on your love parade. You made our week, and our neighbour’s week too.”

– Anonymous, Kitchener

“I’m not a runner. A 30 minute “run” across the Uptown West neighbourhood was never something I actually enjoyed. But desperate times call for desperate measures and I needed to get out of the house. But instead of the usual mind-games — focusing on the body parts that jiggle, assuming people are judging my pace and form, and blaming myself for not keeping up on cardio over the years — something else happened. I focused on my lungs. The motor that regulates my heavy breathing. The breather of fresh spring air. The thing I’ve taken for granted, or even worse — blamed. But now an overwhelming sense of gratitude for healthy, hard-working lungs brought me to tears. To breathe, to run, to have healthy functioning lungs isn’t lost on me as a virus steals this reality from so many of its victims. Feeling gratitude and warm tears on my cheeks, I made my way down William Street before turning onto Park.”

– MKB, Waterloo

“My husband works frontline as a nurse. Hard to see him cry after a shift.”

– Anonymous, Waterloo

“From this house, I can hear the city, Kitchener, it still breathes. I count my own breaths, trying to soak in what is important, and pass out what I can. Family, fear. Community, calamity. Helping, hoarding. I am thankful I can still share meals, albeit different, shows, albeit laughs delayed, and smiles, albeit pixelated. Feeling vulnerable with diabetes, I’ve had to contemplate what matters, how I might want to leave if I’m called. Goodness I want to seed. Olives and branches to extend. Forgivenesses should they be final. You learn plenty about what, and who, is important in your life.”

– A.D, Kitchener

“I got fired from my job in November and have been unemployed since then. Going through the Winter was hard but with Spring weather and everything moving online (video chatting with friends, online events, etc.), I feel like things are starting to get better.”

– Anonymous

“Cascades Through Corona”

I often ponder on these constrictions: The suffocation that comes from
Social isolation
And the inability to complete
A coveted COVID-prevented breath
Outside, I see a neighbour
Playing t-ball with her young son
An open window wafts in
The laughter of children down the street
My child, she is learning to climb
She has turned a couch into a gym
Giggles cascading from her
Like a thunderous waterfall.
She erodes concrete walls,
Carving and cradling a way forward.
She is resilient;
I am resolved.
She is joyful; And I? I
am hopeful.

– Samantha Estoesta, Kitchener

“We met just before the world unraveled, relishing in a chemistry long missing. Then, emotions raced as normalcy vanished. Playing it cool really has no place in a pandemic. He feels ostracized from society and I promise to stay. I crumble with anxiety and his eyes hold me safe. Armour melts, uncovering joy. Appeals for distance fall on clouded ears as we thirst for nearness, intimacy serving as both the saviour and the weapon. “What’s the right thing to do?” we ask constantly. For anyone who’s felt the blaze of new love, you know the answer we’re telling ourselves.”

– Someone who’s falling for a St. Mary’s Hospital health care worker at exactly the wrong time

“”Squawk! Squawk!” the parrot calls as it zooms past me. I swing my arms frantically while turning in exaggerated circles. “I got it!” I say. “I caught my baby parrot. Now where’s my other one?” My four-year-old erupts into laughter as I tickle her and “fly” her back to her nest in the red chair on our deck. My two-year-old darts past me giggling and I grab him, too. Life in my household during COVID-19 is exhausting and messy. My partner and I are stretched thin between working at home and childcare. But we’re not bored.”

– H Thompson, Waterloo

“Self-isolation is not something that is unfamiliar to many artists. Some artists even use it strategically to practice their craft, refine a style, or produce a whole new body of work. I myself, did a one-month self- “art isolation” in 2017 which launched my own career. So naturally, when the risk of COVID-19 was rising in KW, I stocked up on art supplies in anticipation. It is now three weeks later and I have yet to touch a single paintbrush. This isn’t a regular isolation period, there’s a different weight to it. Between the fear of running out of savings as a self-employed freelancer, and lack of motivation to self-promote one’s art at a time like this … there hasn’t been a lot of creativity happening. Everyday I am getting closer to feeling more like myself again, but until then I will do a lot of sitting, sipping tea, and looking out the window — and that’s okay!”

– Trisha Abe, Kitchener-based artist

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. It’s the egg hunts that remain etched most deeply into my memory, partly, I’m sure, because of the excitement of finding chocolate. More than that, though, through the searching I became intimately acquainted with the details of the home they helped build: the green-blue stones in the front hall, the stained-glass light fixture, the landscape painting of the Slovakian village where they were born. In or out of quarantine — and though the house no longer stands — I am particularly fond of Easter.”

– Jen Vasic, Waterloo

Tell us your Tiny Isolation Story here. Just keep it really really short.