Alone time is the greatest gift I could give myself – in between the craze of my 9-5 job and helping my indecisive character until 2 in the morning to solve the problem she created herself. I like it when I am alone in a table for two at an Instagrammable cafe, taking pictures of the books I just bought from a nearby bookstore while enjoying my americano. I like the silence in the dressing rooms when I try dresses at Forever 21, take mirror selfies and send them to Nicole so she could tell me if I should buy it or not. I like it when I attend mass at the chapel where I don’t know anyone and no one knows me because it feels good and liberating to offer a stranger the sign of peace. I like it when I go to the spa and be pampered on the massage table for two hours. I like it when I’m finally in a UV Express car after a long day, when it’s dark and slightly raining and my Spotify playlists are plugged in my ears.
It’s been 48 days (I’m not sure, I lost count) since the enhanced community quarantine was imposed. I made sure I was ready for the quarantine. I bought my prescriptions, stocked on the essentials, and setup my work desk at home in an attempt to create an office vibe in one corner of my bedroom. I consoled myself in the idea that this is perhaps for the best because the moment I catch the virus I’ll be dead. I reminded myself that I did this all the time in the past, back when I couldn’t go out of the house because of myasthenic flares and I would just read books and watch Kdrama and write blogs all day. I was trained to be all by myself all the time. I can do this.
Finally, I could listen to my Spotify playlists without earplugs while working and my ears are grateful. I could go back and forth to the kitchen without worrying if I’d be engaged in unnecessary small talks. I no longer have to struggle with Metro Manila’s monstrous traffic. In between my work, I got in and attended an online workshop where I was able to write a storyline for (which I’ve yet to revise) and watch movies I never thought of watching. I persuaded two of my friends to read books with me and trail blaze an online book club. I was able to outline and finally execute my long-planned blog series that’ll help people write romance. Writing this now, I just realised how productive my quarantine period sounded.
I am alone, operating on my own, but the silence is different. Empty. No more trips to the coffee shop to celebrate my triumph and contemplate on my failures of the day. No more cupcakes for my bigger accomplishments. The smell of new books are suddenly replaced by ebooks that may or may not be counterfeit digital copies. Masses are celebrated via the internet. Birthdays are hotdogs and marshmallows on a stick. The musicals and theatre plays that had an exclusive experience are made available to everyone via Youtube.
No, I am not complaining. How can I, when my woes are clearly nothing compared to those who have no food to put on the table? At least I still have my job (which I’m not sure for how long will hold up). Maybe I have it better that those who are stuck in the hospital and cannot be with their families, because they’re either frontliners or they caught the virus and uncertain if they could make it home alive. Maybe it’s better to stay home than to have an encounter with some people~ who do not have regard for human life. Maybe it’s for the best because now people are kinder and more generous and the earth seems to be taking its much needed break.
I enjoy silence, but not the kind that our chatrooms have become because a family member of one of my friends just died and we ran out of consolations to offer. I enjoy being alone, but not the one that glues me to my laptop all day just to prove that I am being productive. I love being stuck at home to spend time with my family, and not because I am scared that if I go out I’d catch the virus and die.
The silence I learned to love, along with loneliness is beautiful. Unempty.
I’d very much like to take them back.