My friends tell me my life self-isolating to break the spread of Covid-19 is exactly the same as my summer holidays. Here’s why they’re so wrong.
On 26 March, the whole of New Zealand went into self-isolation at home. Well, everyone except those with important jobs required to keep us all alive, such as medical professionals, couriers, farmers, Covid-19 researchers, and supermarket checkout operators.
I am not an essential worker, though I have the uncertain delight of being able to work from home.
Delight because being able to earn income allows me to buy books, which makes me happy. Uncertain because having the Prime Minister to tell you not to go to work is the adult version of getting a note from your mum saying you’re excused from gym class. (Or PE, as we call it.)
But I have to go anyway.
In the days leading up to self-isolation, the standard questions and commiserations circulated.
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Did you find any toilet paper at the supermarket?”
“I’m sorry your tramp/wedding/overseas trip of a lifetime got cancelled.”
But most often I got a different one.
“I thought you’d be fine, because this is exactly what you do for your summer holidays.“
First, I’m sure I will be fine. Unless I’m terribly unlucky and hubby catches coronavirus at the supermarket or petrol station, brings it home to me, and I happen to be in the 1% who die.
So, I’ll probably be fine.
Second, this is NOT what I do for my summer holidays. Allow me to explain.
Some superficial similarities between self-isolation and summer holidays
Most importantly, neither happens during summer
Self-isolation: It’s currently descending into autumn, so we’re going to be terribly unlucky if we’re in exactly the same situation come next summer.
Summer holidays: I take my summer holidays in the middle of winter. You might argue that means they’re not summer holidays. I disagree.
Both are spent primarily at home
Self-isolation: Our Prime Minister says stay home. I can and I want to win at self-isolation, so I am.
Summer holidays: It’s not that I don’t enjoy travelling or that I never travel. More that if most of my break from work is spent away from home, I need a break from holidays before I can go back to work.
Home is also more conducive to writing.
Both are spent primarily with hubby
Self-isolation: I am staying at home, and hubby lives at home. So we self-isolate in a shared bubble.
Summer holidays: The same, I suppose. But we wash our hands less.
These are the only similarities, I swear. In all other ways, self-isolation is completely different from my summer holidays.
Difference 1: Length
Summer holidays: My summer holidays are four weeks long, and then I have to go back to work.
Self-isolation: I know what you’re going to say — the government set self-isolation for four weeks as well.
BUT! We don’t know yet what happens at the end of that time.
Will life return to normal? No. Will we go back to work? Maybe. Will self-isolation be extended another four weeks? I wouldn’t rule it out.
Difference 2: Work
Summer holidays: I don’t have to work. Almost ever. Well, usually.
Definitely most of the time.
Self-isolation: Do I need to spell this out for you?
Difference 3: My interest in the rest of the world
Summer holidays: I try to remember to check my email every two days. If the world ends, someone will probably email me to let me know.
Do I care what politicians are saying? Less than I care about advances in rights for seven-legged spiders.
Do I read the news? Not once in four weeks.
Self-isolation: You should be asking if I do anything other than read the news.
My answer: Not every day.
Difference 4: My progress on my WIP
Self-isolation: I mean to write, honest, but I have to read the news first. And check Twitter just briefly.
Wait, now more news is out. What if something important happens and I miss it?
I need to check again.
Look, eighteen updates in the past five minutes. Let me take a quick look and then I’ll start writing…
Difference 5: Trips out of the house
Summer holidays: Over the course of my normal summer holidays, I will take numerous trips out of the house. I’ll go to the supermarket at least once a week, and probably to the convenience store several times when we run out of chocolate.
I might even be adventurous and go somewhere that’s not the supermarket. Like the petrol station.
Self-isolation: We’re told not to go out except for essential trips or to exercise if we can’t do it at home.
I can exercise just fine at home, so that excuse is out.
It’s clear that supermarket trips for a load of groceries count as essential. Supermarket runs to pick up chocolate do not.
What’s more, only one person per household is supposed to go to the supermarket during the whole self-isolation period, and hubby is it.
Which leaves me here, alone. With no chocolate.
Difference 6: Dinner
Modern society has spawned many wonderful inventions that we now consider essential, such as cars, email, and delivery Indian food.
The problem during lock-down? Delivery services for cooked meals are not allowed to operate. Even the KFC drive-through is closed.
Summer holiday dinners: Pizza! Indian! Burgers!
Self-isolation dinners: Things we can cook.
We’re also going to be down to drinking wine, which you can still buy from the supermarket, as soon as our good spirits run out. Which will be very soon.
So you see, it might seem like I have plenty of practice at self-isolation. In fact, I’m as much a novice as anyone else.
How is your life in self-isolation the same as or different to your normal life?
Get more from me from the safety of your own home.