Waterloo Region Tiny Isolation Stories: Chapter 3

“Our date was planned before this all started, but had to be shuffled to a new plan for obvious reasons. We’ve had phone calls, hours and hours of video calls and lots of messages. Maybe it’s our isolation that helped this be something special. Now we do physically distant walks around town full of laughs and smiles. We’re leaning on each other during this weird time and it’s exactly what we both need. This societal weirdness has no end date and I hope that our sweet weirdness doesn’t either.”

– Anonymous, Kitchener

“So there isn’t a vaccine. What could be a harder pill to swallow? The daily 9-5 was a dependable excuse from those post 5:00 passions. Now hours drown in days to become weeks. All of time and none of the distractions. I could seize everything I pretended the routine kept from me — that poetry, that recipe, those peace lilies. The world has paused, it holds its breath waiting for me to dive in. But I sit frozen on the springboard, intent shimmering underneath. Who could have known? No one else but me.”

– Aftef, Kitchener

“I was going to start a new university program and move to another city at the start of May. I’m still starting my program online but it doesn’t feel the same as meeting everyone in person and exploring a new campus. Also, I haven’t seen my girlfriend in two months and it’s making me a little crazy.”

– Anonymous, Kitchener

“Home life and work life are one and the same. Everything I love about my job is gone; everything I hate about it remains. My sleep schedule has become non-existent. My days are either full of energy — bored out of my mind — or my eyes are straining against the sunlight. Time has lost meaning. Days blur together. Wait, is it snowing outside? What month is it? How long has it been!? Why is the Premier making cheesecake!?!? Oh god, we’re only two (three?) months into the quarantine.”

– P.D., Kitchener

“I dreamed a dream. With wistful porch barbecues, skinny dipping in cottage lakes while fluttering in inflatable donuts, camping in the woods sharing too-small tents. A dream of being back around community tables solving important problems, and walking dogs at Snyder’s Flats. Dreaming of road trips up the 400, cross-border visits with friends, birthdays spent in the outfield with tallboys and best friends. Dreaming of running into friends at Show & Tell, of being in the front seats of the Princess Cinema. Dreaming of open friendships, instead of being blocked off from everyone who matters. Still dreaming.”

– N.D., Kitchener

“Trying to make the most of this weird situation. To come back from seeing the world, straight into isolation wasn’t easy. I spread my wings for a few months and then I was pushed into a smaller cage than I started with. I was scared it might feel a little cramped, but it’s incredible how much room having the right people around provides. There’s always enough space to sprawl on a good friend’s couch and the right set of arms around you will always fit just right, no matter how much you’ve grown.”

– André Bourgeois, Waterloo

“This is a strange time. Some are on a prolonged forced vacation, and some are wading through each day trying to stay safe and sane. There’s something surreal about walking your dog downtown, or speeding through Central Fresh observing such starkly different reactions to the world around us. I’ve never felt more pensive. We’re all collectively going through something so vast and so alarming, and yet it’s easy to feel so far removed that it seems like nothing is happening at all. I haven’t figured out how I feel yet.”

– R, Kitchener

“When this whole thing started, I changed the letter board in my room to read “RELENTLESSLY OPTIMISTIC.” I tried to skip ahead to the blooming of spring and the therapy of community. I scrawled out notes of gratitude and I never really stopped to grieve the opportunities I’d lost. Things unraveled quickly and everywhere — it took a while to catch up to me. Lately I’ve been thinking, why do we demand resilience from ourselves so abruptly? This year has been jarring enough. I’m ready to just sit with the heartache for a while.”

– Jenna Aquino, Waterloo

“I look back at my Maharashtrian roots, how my cuisine is informed by the flora of the arid Deccan Plateau and the lived experiences of my ancestors who saw the world wars, the Indian independence struggle; learned to make delicious recipes out of what could be found during droughts, what could be afforded with meagre wallets. I think carefully what to buy in my monthly grocery visit, I learn how to store food, make it last longer, nourish myself, let nothing go to waste. I taste sustenance in my grandparent’s recipes. I will not forget, once abundance returns.”

– Nitica Sakharwade, Waterloo