Dearest Rachel –
When Alton Brown started his ‘Quarantine Qitchen’ online streaming program with his wife Elizabeth about a year and a half ago, you were tuning in every Tuesday to watch, and occasionally comment, as they tried to assemble dinner and drinks together, squabbling as (apparently?) married couples do. You seemed to find it fascinating; I could take or leave it, but I enjoyed it for your sake at the very least. Obviously, I haven’t watched it since January, but I wanted to put it out there that it was something you enjoyed.
It was a form of experimental theater, as the entire world had gone on lockdown, but he could still cook (indeed, cooking going hand-in-hand with eating, it was one task that was necessary to day-to-day life even in those extreme situations), with her help, and they could still film it, however shakily. He took what he did for a living, and brought it into his life, and in so doing, humanized himself and his work in a new and interesting way.
So, I think I’m going to take a page from Alton’s cookbook, and try to apply it to my life as it’s been thrust upon me. I had planned for this to be a travelogue, chock-full of pictures of this place or that as I visited them along my way. That’s not going to happen anymore.
For what it’s worth, in the wee hours that I’ve been sleeping, I finally got the email from Walgreens about Friday morning. Given the results of the test I took on the ship, as well as what I found out about Wednesday’s test, it should come as no surprise that it came in positive too. So it turns out that I had no business leaving the country, let alone going on a vacation from city to city up the Rhine, but the fact that nobody, least of all me, knew that at the time, is how I ended up here, imprisoned in a hotel room in Basel for the next nine-plus days.
And all I can do is to try and make the best of it. So I’m going to spend a fair amount of time and effort talking to you by way of Siri, documenting my mental (and physical) state to try and keep myself at least somewhat tethered to reality. Of course, the fact that my lifeline to reality is in my writing letters to one who I know will never read them, is kind of suspect to begin with, but I would like to think that it might amuse certain others that will chance by this series of letters. It’s why I started this whole thing in the first place; someone else will go through this themselves, and maybe they will be comforted by the fact that they aren’t the first ones to have done so – and probably won’t be the last.
Let me start out (and yes, after five hundred words or so into this letter, I’m ‘starting out’) by saying that the rules don’t apply here. All the advice I got before setting out on this journey is now pretty much useless. Sorry, Mom and Dad, that’s just how things are. I’m not going to be doing the things I planned on, and what I am doing, nobody could have prepared me for – another reason to be doing this, so as to prepare the next person who tests positive while en route as to what to expect. Although, to be fair, I don’t expect that much of what I write to you about will have anything to do with actual ‘advice,’ per se. All there is to it, is to sit there, not come into contact with anyone, and get well.
The only question I have right now is whether this is actually Covid or not. Because if it is, I’ve been led to believe that it doesn’t go away on its own, like a cold does. And yet, at the moment, I’ve been treating it like I would a cold, complete with those caplets to get me through the day. Only now, since I won’t be dealing with people, theoretically, I can dispense with that for the foreseeable future. Why stifle the symptoms when I’m not coming into contact with anyone anyway, especially since I would assume that neither NyQuil nor DayQuil has any effect on the virus? Why waste medicine on something it doesn’t treat?
So, that’s what I’ve done last night; I didn’t bother to take NyQuil after signing off with Kevin last night. It went about as well as you would expect, which is to say, I’ve been dictating to Siri since about 3:30 this morning – for reference, it’s coming up on 5:15 right now. Now, some of this is because stuff simply occurs to me, and I have to write it down whenever it does. But also, it’s because I can’t stay asleep for more than four or five hours at a time. That’s how things worked the night before at the Hotel Euler, and that seems to be how things are going to be going here at the Pullman as well. We’ll have to see how long this lasts.
As it so happens, my second attempt at sleep for the night goes much better, to the point where I very nearly miss the knock on my door for room service. I’ll describe all that separately; I’m working on critiquing my meals as I go through them (if nothing else, it will establish that my sense of taste is still operational, although I understand that these days, that doesn’t prove anything in regard to whether I do or do not have Covid). I dare say that another night like that, and I might well be feeling like myself soon enough.
Not that it will get me out of here any sooner, but battling boredom and ennui might well be easier were I not a physical wreck. Then again, were I tired and sick, it might be easier to sleep away the idle hours, rather than pacing like a caged tiger.
So many variables to the upcoming days. Will I be able to shake off this illness of my own accord? How can I cope with the fact that I’m forbidden from leaving this room? Stay tuned to see if I break down or break through before I break out of here.
Until then, honey, wish me luck. I’m seriously going to need it.