The room I sit in to work does not have a work table, but it does have loads of books. I call it my library. It has many tables, I have collected them over the years. The french table too delicate to be used as an everyday dining table could be it, but the chairs scare me with their fine legs and straight backs. The rent table that I pounced on at an antique shop is too low to be called a work table, but it works perfectly with my lounge chairs. This is where I sit. The brown leather barrel sofa seat has a lamp, and a lovely tuck in table, just the right height for my laptop, but I have not started working there yet. One must have something to look forward too, I think. And while the pandemic rages, my old furniture meeting my not so old furniture in different combinations must suffice.
Since I cannot travel, I do not meet new rooms. I transform old rooms to new. The drawing room that used to host visitors now our cozy room, we retire to it when we read books that will slowly lull us to sleep on the long sofas. I change it around every fortnight. I need to see it renewed. Also, this is how I keep it clean or why would anyone bother, but we must not speak of such mundane things. We live to rise above the mundane, this is why we keep moving. Or keep it moving, as we can.
The upstairs neighbour is a restless soul too. He has just replaced a window. He had replaced a wardrobe before that, and before that a bathroom. I have seen none of these, I have heard all of them. These houses are built of concrete. Every drill bit reverberates through the walls and through our skulls. We stay patient. The lockdown cannot affect us, it is the neighbour who is cracking under the stress. We can hear him.
Poor chap, we think, all alone on that floor. We do not say it. One assumes the other has thought the same thing, that’s the thing with marriage. Sometimes you do not have to exchange that glance across a room. Or suppress a giggle at a moment you know has been noticed. Time stretches in the pandemic. I remember a weird moment a week later, a month later, retell it and we twinkle our eyes to it, as if raising a glass to the moment.
We would have shared it there and then, but all the theres are right here now, we do not step out. All the thens have become irrelevant, they are so similar. Days of the week do not matter anymore, except when pretending to remember for work calls, when we quickly scramble to do the math in our head and work it out. Sometimes you hear the other person doing it too, and wonder – will they get there first? Do we even care? Those who don’t, become friends of the moment.
We are a little community of sorts, those of us who have found the moment. Where the other stuff has it’s place, but is just not here. We perform, like we always have. We pretend that calendars and times and schedules matter, as they always have. But we secretly know that if they disappeared, we would still be here, and we would be okay. We would still do what we needed to do, we just would not be rushing and dashing around like we used to before the pandemic.
It has changed us. Some now crave to go back to their old selves because they think they know it. At least they know what do do with it. Or used to, in the old world. I wonder if they will fit in the new. I wonder if our new selves will fit in the new world, one that is here, but has not been fused by our presence yet. It was built in our absence, in the times when our screens stood in our stead. From where we sit, the new world is a giant screen, full of little boxes. Each of us is one little box, a tiny pixel. And when we zoom out, we will be able to see the picture we made. Our world, made in our likeness. Our new normal.