While today was a day not totally unlike the days before (I mean I am still in quarantine and my surroundings haven’t changed), I began to look forward to the time when I get out of quarantine and recommence my life back in the community. At eleven this morning I received the results of my most recent COVID test: Negative. *insert massive sigh of relief here. While I had already begun to feel physically better yesterday, having confirmation that my symptoms are not linked to this illness was significant. In an effort to think positively I had already begun to plan that morning for some kind of a holiday in the two weeks after I ‘get out’ so to speak. Having spent the past 9 months abroad doing fieldwork during the outbreak, I already decided that two weeks of putting away the computer, the field-notes, and just all the thinking that comes with it was needed. To say that my time abroad was all interviews, work, and stress, however, would be a lie. Originally from the island of Newfoundland, I was surrounded by friends and family the whole time. I spent weekends diving, gardening, and hiking. I had an incredible experience meeting with and interviewing participants (virtually and in person), all of whom were generous, kind and overall wonderful people to be around. However, when doing fieldwork you can never really ‘turn off’ your brain. Always you are thinking, observing, noting. So today, I made a plan to organize some time away from my laptop in the great South Australian (SA) outdoors. Should be fun no?
While the thought of this adventure made the reality of the end of this period more real, the process of researching and booking itself was horrendous because, 1) the time intended is over a long weekend AND school holidays, 2) we are trying to find pet friendly accommodations (I refuse to leave my dog behind again - but he’s a terrible tent camping dog), 3) because of COVID, everyone in SA is staying, well, in SA, and 4) I left this all until less than 2 weeks before the intended holiday stint. Well. What felt like a thousand hours on painfully slow internet later, my whole idea of what my two week holiday would look like when I got out shifted somewhat. Now I’m looking at 3 days at a beach shack on the coast. To be fair, those 3 days are more than many people get for a holiday and they will most likely be wonderful, but just the process of trying to search, scour and find SOMETHING available was frustrating. When trying to secure a pity party from my partner this afternoon after venting about just ‘how much time I ‘wasted’ trying to get these holiday plans sorted today, he laughed and said quote: “well, it's not like you had anything better to do?’” I. Was. Offended. Of course I did! I had a whole schedule of activities I wanted to achieve today. I wanted to do some yoga, to clean my bathroom and the rooms' surfaces, to finish my book (Dark Emu...definitely a worthwhile read), drink my wine on the balcony with my cheese, and even do 2 hours of scheduled PhD time. This of course after watching the most recent episodes of ‘The Boys’ with a friend (I say watched together, but really we asynchronously texted hilarious commentary to each other throughout). So. As I said. A full day. It was after this and a balcony visit from some friends on the street that I began to see parallels to Rapunzel in the Disney adaptation Tangled. Rapunzel, in this case, is a young woman kept in a tower by a witch who pretends to be ‘her mother’ and who justifies her imprisonment with notions that the world is a dangerous place, in which the tower is for ‘her own good’ and because ‘mother knows best’.
While I could sit here and try to pretend that I saw this movie with a baby cousin or something, I am going to instead own up to the fact that I independently went to see this movie in theatres and have watched it several times on my own since. In fact, this is one of my older brothers' favourite movies and I have forced many a friend to watch it again with me. *cough. Anyway. There is a scene where Rapunzel happily sings about her daily life in the tower and its routine. In the beginning Rapunzel goes on about how many things she accomplishes throughout the day like painting a mural, washing the floor, braiding her hair, and reading a book. While you are first made to think that she enjoys her days and life, this song really works to highlight more about the repetitive and mundane nature of her routine due to her confinement. What she really wants in her life is adventure and to be free from her tower. This song gets reprised again once she gets out of the tower for the first time when her dreams of adventure and freedom become a reality. Of course, attempting to draw parallels here to my own story is bound to highlight some drastic differences - mainly that I am not some cartoon Disney character. However, there are similarities to how I felt today. I stay in my room willingly because a senior mother figure (let's say the State) says they know best and wants to keep me safe (admittedly their motives are quite different). I make the best of it each day with my own routine and daily projects. I am on the eleventh floor and am in serious need of a haircut. And most of all, despite drawing to the positive aspects of this experience, what I truly want are the adventures that wait for me outside this tower. I want to watch the sunrise over the ocean and not a Westpac building. I want to run in a park, and not from my desk to the front door and back. And I want, more than anything, to sit side by side with another human being. Despite how frustrating it might be to arrange.