As is typical for events of a global scale, quarantine crept up unnoticed. Along with conspiracy theories, acts of political protest, and the best gingerbread recipes, endless online courses, clever lectures, and motivating articles have poured into the information space, aimed at ensuring that after self-isolation we go out into the streets as completely different people. Slender, knowing a new language and able to stand in the bar for three weeks in a row.
For the first couple of days, I diligently kept working and even inadvertently signed up for some promising Harvard course, and then found myself on the couch in my parents’ house, revisiting Vasilisa Mikulishna.
I am one of those happy people who were not hit so hard by the pandemic: I have no children, only a British cat, I am not locked in the same apartment with someone difficult (other than myself, but we will talk about this later). And so I had some free time, which I decided to fill with an acquaintance with All the Smart Things that were quietly gathering dust in the browser bookmarks. Hiccuping nervously from Derrida’s grammar (he whispered to me that reality as such does not exist), I realized that I simply could not cook dinner tonight, and defeatedly ordered a pizza to take home. When she arrived – lush, creamy, and mushroomy – the world, of course, turned upside down.
I am a conservative person: for 15 years I have been eating the same pizza from the same cafe. I was introduced to it by my now-living and very beloved grandmother. As a child, my grandmother and I shared the child-pensioner contemplation, spying on grandfather from the balcony: here he appears in the yard, respectfully takes off his cap in front of the guard of other grandmothers on the bench, and enters the entrance, jingling keys and caramels hidden for me. Caramels after pizza and pizza after three spoonfuls of bad soup eaten in the name of love for a family worried about my childhood fat. And now I, meter seventy-two of my journalistic career, look at the familiar multi-colored box with a pattern of champignons and think: you’re doing your quarantine wrong, Uncle Fyodor. The French pundits will wait. Try to just stay here for a bit!
Do you also know that everything that goes under the label “simple” is actually not simple? Do you also want to chase with a fly swatter after that zen guru who suggests “just relax”? My sudden desire to sit and think instead of actively comprehending philosophy resulted in an acquaintance with my own apartment and the world around it. I approvingly assessed the flag brought by my parents from Sweden in 2012, stumbled over a heavy lamp (about one and a half years old Lisa), went through my mother’s dresses, and enthusiastically took up mother herself. Move over, O friend Derrida.
People, with thoughts about which you live all your conscious life, is the most mysterious treatise on the planet.
On the first evening, we looked at each other with the interest of the heroes of the Lost series, who found themselves on an abandoned island. On the second evening, we watched “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and were very pleased. On the third day, I looked at my parents and thought: I know by heart all four albums of their photographs from 1980-1997, I remember the moment when we bought a deep fryer so that we would never use it. It is thanks to them that I love the Secret Service group and express myself with quotes from the movie Red Kalina. It is with them that I see twice a year, reluctantly fulfilling my filial duty to come and listen to lamentations that it is time to get married and stop wearing baggy trousers. And now we’ve been sitting in the apartment for a month, from which I once left with a fight in adulthood, and reinventing the concepts of intimacy and friendship. Or rather, I reinvent them with my eternal tendency to theorize the untheoretical. And they watch the news on TV, plan to make repairs when “this is all” is over, and subtly hint that quarantine is quarantine, and getting to know some nice Nizhny Novgorod would be a great idea. I agree although the handsome Nizhny Novgorod citizen with whom I have to spend a lot of time alone is, as you already understood, myself.
Somehow it happened that during this month I went through so many events in my memory that it became a little scary – I really have to get out of quarantine with a slightly different Lisa.
But not the one that loudly plays with the press cubes or speaks charming French, but the one that is a little clearer about who she is and what will come of her next. Well, the long-suffering cat (sorry, dear!) is ironed for three years in advance.
The destruction of the world of habitual objects contributed well to my research. Indeed, now, when a coffee shop or a flower shop is a festive and unusual place, it would be embarrassing to go there as if nothing had happened. Of course, in a couple of weeks (or months?), we will again be munching sandwiches on the run, dismissing acquaintances, skipping events, and not paying attention to home interiors. But now, while everything is incomprehensible and fragile, while anxiety bites the barrel, and lectures and courses are good because they can not only be watched but also put aside – let’s try to stay here at least a little.
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