A short rumination on how — as a non-essential worker— it is almost impossible to get anything done right now.
Easter Sunday, 2020
This does not feel like a good time to sleep late, and yet, I can’t help it.
I am not, by nature, an early riser. I would rather get lost in the hours that unfold around midnight — the quiet and the stillness that opens up around 1am, the feeling of dawdling alone in the dark. The efficiency of the early riser — the spring, the boing, the positive productivity, the ability to tick off ten things before breakfast, the acceptance of the rhythm, the routine — seem like such hard work. Like making work when sleep would do instead.
The stolen pleasure of sleeping through the alarm, of opening and closing one eye then leaning back into the pillow, then the heavy blur before the first cup of coffee — these are my favourite mornings. A sense of being so heavily and deeply asleep that I am out of this world; sunk deep and slowly into another place and time. The feeling of feeling apart and alone and still.
I am, in short, a lazy person. Too fond of my bed and the thoughts in my head. But I am usually stirred by coffee and necessity. A child, a cat, an imminent meeting, the school run — the hum of the real world beyond my front door that fills me with a sense of purpose. And I get there. It might require a four-to-the-floor beat through my headphones, or a second cup of coffee, or both, but I fall in line. I become busy. I get things done. I spend the best part of most days pretending to be an efficient person — making lists, doing stuff, having chats, and mostly meeting expectations. I meet everyone for a little while, in the middle of the day, then I save the best for later. The quiet, the empty, the nothingnesss.
But this is no way to be in lockdown. It’s 25 degrees outside. The sun is hot and the garden untidy and dust bunnies are chasing one other around the skirting board. The laundry is piling up. The esoteric mix of live-for-ever groceries filling the cupboards need cooking and preparing and turning into meals. And the bathroom, oh, the bathroom needs cleaning. On a day that isn’t today there is homeschooling to do and work to be done and people to be called and virtually met with and things to be written and never-ending online supermarket queues to join, while I worry if I remembered to take something out of the freezer for the 857th meal we seem to have eaten this week.
This is no time to sleep late. There are things to do and almost none of them involve lying drowsily in bed considering the existential and eternal nature of our being because, oh, there it is, the existential nature of everything is inescapable; it buts up against everything all of a sudden. We barely know how to say it yet, but people we love are dying, and meanwhile I’m wondering if I really can substitute an egg with the water from the can of chickpeas.
It is — I say, to no one’s great surprise — a confusing time, and it is hard to get anything done. We are all at least two metres apart but ever-present at the end of video calls. The business of work — which used to dominate so much of my life — has been pushed to the edges and the messiness of home has seeped in instead. Cats and children creeping onto calls; smart on top, shorts on the bottom, pretending it’s business as usual because we need to hold on to some remnant of how it used to be.
But when I leave the house, it’s anything but: everyone’s faces lashed with make-do masks and the chirrup of bird song suddenly audible where once all that could be heard was the idling of engines; and meanwhile, on the Internet, every second person seems to have a graph to publish. No one knows how to be in a pandemic, but everyone wants to tell you what to do.
It is no time to sleep late because, by the time I have properly woken, the tragedy of the day is already in full swing. I’ve not had chance to steal a march on the news or the numbers. And I can’t wake up, because when I do, I’ll need to sort a white wash before I can even start contemplating how I might — or if I can — help to save the world.
So perhaps tonight I will go to bed early and set my alarm, and try to begin before the day has started, so I can tick off ten things before the breakfast news can tell me what is wrong today.
This is no time to sleep late.