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Diary of a quarantined sociologist - day 3
By Sarah Burrage
Posted on 9/15/2020 6:27 AM

Today is Sunday. Normally this would be a day when I would find myself going for early walks with the dog, visiting the market, reading, watching movies, and generally contenting myself with tasks of domestic bliss. Today in quarantine was no different…albeit with some alterations. While the size of my world may have shrunk, my habits and patterns of domesticity have not changed. Taking my friend on a Facetime tour through my new ‘home’ showed my world to be a rather large one. Of course ‘large’ is all a matter of perspective. Giving the grand tour I was able to show off my office (desk in corner), reading nook (chair next to desk), kitchen (mini fridge and kettle area + bathroom sink), laundry (bathtub and also kitchen sink), bedroom suite (bed) dining area (also bed), local theatre (bed again), spa (bathtub and bathroom), rooftop terrace (balcony with chair), bar-nightlife (also balcony), walk in closet (hooks), clothes drying rack (the door handle to my balcony), and pantry (the food stash of treats in a basket on the floor). Most impressive, however, was my at home fitness center (my yoga mat laid on the floor in front of the bed, the dresser I use for dips, and the demonstration I gave of walking lunges across the floor space). Despite the fact that the size of my world has shrunk I have attempted to adapt the size of this world to mimic a day lived in the ‘outside world’. All that was needed was a little imagination.  

I started my Sunday morning with a nice early coffee and croissant breakfast on the Garden Terrace with my partner, before undertaking some domestic duties of tidying my bedroom suite, washing dishes, and doing some laundry. Such tasks were followed by running some errands, including a visit to the community nurse, purchasing birthday and baby shower gifts from my favorite store Amazon, looking for a new washer at the Good Guys before visiting my travel agent Google about dog friendly holiday destinations in South Australia. I decided to relax after my errands by doing some sunbathing and reading on the Rooftop Terrace before attending a yoga class with my instructor Adrian.  A hot/cold shower at the spa preceded a lovely pasta dish lunch delivered from the Restaurant Quarantine. Feeling rather relaxed I decided to hit up the local theatre that was doing a marathon of PBS’s 2018 series ‘The Woman in White’. Of course I had to duck out of the theatre at times to take a few calls from friends who live abroad. Following the PBS marathon I enjoyed a leisurely glass of wine on the Terrace listening to music before retiring to my office to reflect on the day’s events. After this I will no doubt have dinner delivered from the Restaurant Quarantine (I just can’t be bothered to cook), before running myself a bath and retiring to the bedroom suite for the evening. Should anyone review this day’s activities and not know my current circumstances they may think it was a regular Sunday of leisure and domesticity. They need not know that my unmentionables were washed in the bathtub with a soap bar provided by the hotel and my dishes done in the bathroom sink. That my yoga was on YouTube and that I spent most of the day alternating between the bed and back corner of the balcony (I say back corner because I still have issues with heights).

While my world has shrunk in physical size, the patterns of habit that dictate my movements, interactions, and behavior have largely stayed the same. By going beyond the physical social world into one that is virtual I am taken into another dimension of space and place beyond the confines of these four walls.  Accessing online shopping, social media outlets, and YouTube, I was able to seize the opportunities of the virtual world so recently enhanced. By also looking at what things ‘could be’ in the room I am forced to reflect on my old Professor McMillan’s constructivist notions of what makes a chair a chair. Some may look at the bed and see a bed. However, if you take a pillow or two, cover it in a few of the million paper bags you have accumulated from your deliveries, and a tea towel, you have yourself a dining area. What is a narrow (and kinda scary) balcony turns into a rooftop terrace when you get a dining room chair delivered to you so you can watch the sunrise and set over the city sky. While none of these adaptations really replace the real thing (I am still one of those who likes to chat to attendants when paying for petrol and going into physical spaces for fitness and shopping), they have allowed me to maintain a sense of routine and habit that is important to stave off those wounding impacts of human isolation. I have always been sensitive to stories of human loneliness (definitely a topic for another day), but today was the first time I got an indication of the challenges that these 14 days may create should my theatre turn back into a bed, my fitness center back into a carpeted floor or my laundry back into a bathtub. Just like the proverbial pumpkin carriage at midnight.