Wednesday, 25 March 2020, was THE day that I defiantly acknowledged you in my life:
“I suck at drawing.
I haven’t exercised for the last five years.
I have to look for different ways to have fun.
I have to change the way I interact in relationships.
You are really pushing me out of my comfort zone.
I am pretty easy-going and do not have a competitive streak, but for you it was “BAM-GAME MODE ON”.
So just to share some of the things I had to experience because of you:
- Moved in with my best friend Chi-an to a new house within ONE day after the announcement of the circuit breaker (CB) so that we could go through the quarantine period together. We had no time to waste, otherwise, we would not be able to get movers to help us in our relocation.
- Gave up my daily regime of going to my fave cafe “Monument Lifestyle” to sit, work and have an oat milk cappuccino and a chat with the lovely folks who work there.
- Spent the first couple of weeks during quarantine grieving for the unbelievable number of lives and jobs that you took and continue taking from both strangers and my friends around the world.
- Stopped visiting my family for more than two months as I had to continue going out to work and did not want to put my ageing parents at risk of infection.
- Endured the pain of not seeing my “tribe” and bore their suffering, especially those who were living alone with no family in Singapore during quarantine. For me, physical affection is something I show openly so social distancing was killing me softly from the inside.
- Missed, longed and yearned for my bf John who is based in Bangkok whom I couldn’t visit as borders were closed to travel. The last time I saw him was on 6 March 2020, more than three months ago and I still don’t know when we will see each other in person again.
- Went through a hell of a roller coaster ride of emotions, ranging from grief, doubt, heartache, frustration and anger to serenity, joy and gratitude (not necessarily in that order). There were good and bad days – more bad especially during the first month of quarantine.
Well, there were also some of these other things that I did because you left me with no other choice and hence I decided I might as well beat you at your own game:
- Socially and professionally, I became more acquainted with technology (disclaimer: I am tech-unsavvy) and befriended the likes of Zoom, Google Hangouts and Hop In through the many online drink and chit-chat sessions, game nights, parties, video interviews, talks and conferences I attended. I even learnt how to be more comfortable and natural in front of a screen, talking to frames of tiny faces and getting a good “feel” of their “body language”.
- Since there was no more socialising with other people, except for Chi-an, both of us decided to throw various themed parties for 2 – dressing up and dancing to our heart’s content at our house and on our amazing rooftop. Sometimes I would even throw a party for 1 – me, myself and I. We created our own fun, our own weird “play” bubble.
- I developed a new daily routine of waking up early and exercising. For the last five years, I stayed active but did not have a proper exercise routine. Just before the CB, I joined a fitness group called “CBD Runners” for strengthening and conditioning on a weekly basis. During quarantine, I surprised myself – I became disciplined enough to do the 45 min workout at home and boy, my body never felt stronger and looked fitter! I even got myself a tan from working out on the side alley, downstairs my house – friends who “saw” me online thought I had gone for some beach vacation – not without some envy!
- You made people and vehicles disappear from the roads, which strangely allowed me to experience my city through a fresh pair of eyes. It feels almost like an unbearable lightness of being. The Marina Bay and CBD area became so beautifully untouched during sunrise and sunset whenever I ran or cycled around there.
- I upped my kitchen game and started making my own kombucha and granola, playing with different flavours, paying homage to my Chinese TCM roots.
- You also helped me to develop a happy relationship with both alcohol and dogs. I enjoy having my aperitifs at the end of each day on the rooftop (though I remain a lightweight), and I started getting to know the dogs around the neighbourhood and they saved me from “skin hunger” with their kisses and hugs, since we all had to be isolated from humans. Maintaining a long-distance relationship was already challenging before you came along but after you appeared, I worked a lot harder to ensure the emotional and sexual intimacy with my bf were maintained. In fact, I am proud that our communication did improve, our dates got more creative and overall our relationship strengthened, all thanks to you.
- The biggest game changer was unexpectedly seen in my work – selling sex toys and advocating sexual wellness. You helped shine a light on the topic of Sex, which was taboo, and made people pay more urgent attention to it, strangely. And sex toys happen to be the safest form of self-pleasure when you are around.
For now, I would say we are on a level playing field. But I promise you the game would change in my favour – I am going to optimise each and every opportunity that arose due to your appearance to let people understand that with or without you, sexual wellness IS an integral part of one’s total well-being. It boils down to getting to know your body, essentially taking care of yourself through Self-Love and Self-Care.
Last but not least, I keep thinking to myself what strange times we all live in because of you. As we open up and go into Phase 2 of CB, I wish to take my time to re-enter the world and experience a “new norm” with you lurking around for god knows how long. Even though you might be very uncomfortable and unlikeable, I now have such a deeper sense of gratitude of life for having being in such a (happy) quarantine with myself, my flatmate/twin Chi-an, my bf John, my neighbours “Bangladeshi Worker” Shab and Mama Shab, my TP/SG Tribe, Fausto, my Spottiswood Neighbourhood abundant with my fave sweet-smelling frangipani trees and my living space and rooftop where I constantly sought to balance myself.
You have indeed brought out a lot of darkness in my life, not to mention the rest of the world, yet I have experienced so much love and light at the same time, too. So COVID-19, bring it on – I am ready to get into a glorious battle with you to turn whatever darkness into blue skies of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Don’t play play, ok?