The good news is that my beau and I were offered a film to do together. The bad news is that because it was to shoot in Vancouver, we’d be obliged as per Canadian covid protocol, to quarantine for fourteen days in a hotel room. “Sure”, I thought, “Not a problem.” Mercifully it wasn’t and we’ve now lived to tell the tale but it was interesting for sure.
First up, prior to departure from the US, there were the 15 or more online forms that had to be filled out…all for covid. ” Are you coughing? Are you unusually tired? Have you been around someone with covid?” Really? How would I know?
As I was filling them out, I kept thinking how dumb this was…more forms, more red tape. I mean who was going to look at all this stuff? Fair, if you were to call me grumpy. Then there were the five sites that needed to be joined…site for testing, site for info on the hotel in which we were to quarantine, site to show travel plans, etc. Grumpier still but joined as was required and dotted all the “i’s.”
Soon as I boarded the Air Canada flight the grumpy started to abate. The flight was far from sold out, passengers not traveling together were spaced apart. The plane crew were gowned, gloved and masked. Clearly they were taking covid safety very seriously which immediately eased the tension of covid travel worries. Easy passage to one of the world’s most beautiful airports, Vancouver International, which on past entries had been bustling with activity. This time the airport was, for all intents and purposes, dormant. Only our plane seemed to have landed, shops and restaurants were shuttered and the main lobby had been turned into a covid testing mash unit with a hundred or more cubicles, one to a passenger, staffed by a nurse who administered the required nasal swab. A most unusual but necessary welcome. Oh by the way, every single form we’d filled out had been claimed by a customs officer by the time we exited the airport. So much for my having prejudged them as being superfluous.
With utmost courtesy, we were then escorted post haste to our airport hotel room. Probably wasn’t, but the door sounded particularly loud as it shut. Three days there til our tests cleared and then we’d be moved to a hotel in town for the remaining 11 days. Meals would be delivered three times daily. Laundry could not be sent out nor any newspapers delivered. Hard core. Pals of mine returning to their homes in Shanghai and Sydney respectively have endured the 14 days, now it was our turn. Light, view, connection to nature are crucial to me. I can’t remember a day over the last many years when I have not been able to/chosen to spend some portion of it out of doors. How, I wondered would I fare being hermetically sealed in? Through the centuries people have endured jail cells, dungeons in shackles, darkened caves…surely we could manage 14 days with hot and cold running water, a loo and room service. Wait, could we?
Turns out, for me anyway, when you cannot go out the only place to go is in…in this case into self to explore what a pal used to call “the infinite space within.” Love that. I have to admit there was a moment each morning upon rising, when I usually set my sites on the day ahead, when I felt like I was being slammed into a wall…but that quickly gave way to the inner road. Breath, meditation, prayer became the prominent features of the day. Yoga, online pilates mat classes. Time suspended itself in the cocoon and the days passed easily. There may have been some red wine involved. Just sayin’.
Over the fourteen days I began to daydream about the concept of quarantine. Curious that some of it’s synonyms are “distance, keep out, close off, fence off, put a cordon on.” Sounded awfully like concepts we’ve exhaustively heard bandied about in the news over the last few years. I dug a bit to learn that the word quarantine comes from the Italian quaranta ‘forty’. Forty days…a significant passage of time used for transformations in many religious traditions. Seems to me our sorry world could use some healthy transformations about now. I for one certainly could do with a reset, renew, refresh.
As we emerged we felt, more than anything, a sense of gratitude to the Canadian government for taking the pandemic so seriously. Hadn’t seen that coming. Their restrictions felt more like care than confinement. They’d managed to construct and implement a whole infrastructure of covid awareness. The feeling continued as we witnessed everyone wearing masks and in restaurants where strictly out of doors dining with distanced tables was the norm. Camaraderie, that sense of all being in it together, was tangible.
Would that it were so in America. We’ve been lax, uncoordinated. We’ve missed a golden opportunity to come together as one against the deadly virus. We have instead been splintered, angry, scared, some of us are in stubborn and ignorant denial, confused and dying. We’ve missed a moment when we could have, dare say should have dropped the facade of ideological separations, missed the moment to heal divides and embrace the great adversity that could have brought us together when we need it the most. More’s the pity.
If this won’t bring us together, bring us into the awareness that we forevermore exist in a global reality, what will?