Over a million Canadian citizens and permanent residents returned to Canada after March 14, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am one of them. We cut short our international travel following Trudeau government’s public plea for our quick return…and boy, are we glad we did.
That warning is the reason I am not holed up in a foreign land, away from my house and the loved ones that make it a home. I will ever be so grateful for that. I have seen people unable to move between cities and left in the lurch due to overnight lockdowns the world over. Being a part of Canada gives me that sense of belonging and safety few countries offer.
Today is my 14th and final day in self-isolation. I took the 14-day requirement seriously. My wife, more so.
While abroad, she repeatedly messaged me to return. “Don’t stress about business or money,” she said. I listened to her but wanted to surprise her. I changed the ‘surprise’ plan because I knew I had to self isolate.
Minutes prior to boarding my 15-hour direct flight back to Toronto Pearson, I told her I was coming home.
Among other things, we discussed how I could self isolate.
Between then and reaching home I could not dare cough. I tend to cough after meals (something I became aware of recently) and ended up letting out two coughs in the airport lounge after a nice cold blueberry yoghurt. The Chinese man sitting in front of me literally grabbed his stuff and moved to the other corner of the lounge. Yes, the fear was real.
In the aircraft, almost everyone from the kid next to me, to the old lady behind me and the man on the other side of the aircraft was coughing away on the 15-hour flight. Or so I thought. It was my amplified senses due to paranoia that allowed me to pick up each and everyone of those sounds.
How were the flight attendants working so diligently during this heightened levels of fear due to the pandemic? They had no clue that 5 days later, 5,000 of them were going to be laid off. This despite Air Canada sitting on a cushion of $7.3 billion. And leaving them to queue up at the (online) doors of Employment Insurance alongside a million others. But that’s a story for another day.
I was lucky to get my hands on the last N95 mask at the local HomeDepot back in February, and I finally used it on the flight home out of sheer fear.
At Pearson airport, I, like everyone else, was questioned at two different locations on whether we had Covid-19 symptoms. Those like me who did not, were told to self-isolate for 14 days. One may think this is not enough. But I now realize, even those who test positive for Covid-19 have no choice but to self-isolate at home. Hospitals are mainly to assist those with breathing difficulty or medical complications.
After an hour I was home. I walked in and we gave each other that loving look most couples give one another when they meet after a while.
But it was weird. I couldn’t hug or kiss her. We just stood frozen thinking, is this really happening?
We were both just glad to be near one another. Luckily, it was 6 am and my daughter was still asleep.
With my bag and shoes in tow I immediately walked into a separate bedroom that my wife had set-up for me. For the next 14 days I was to operate out of the bedroom, my office and a dedicated washroom.
The privilege of living in a house with so much space was not lost on me.
Later my 7-year-old called out to me. She wondered why we couldn’t hug. I began to explain and she said, “I know. It’s coronavirus, right?” I said right. I think, she thinks, I actually have it.
My new set-up was a self-sufficient mancave of sorts. I would get timely meals at my door and there was no looming fear of not living up to my wife’s expectations of a perfect hubby. Something most men fail to achieve.
Life was so good, at one point, I swear, I thought of extending the self-isolation to 30 days.
Every evening, I got to go to my backyard for five minutes, while the pathway from my room is made clear of any obstruction. This was the only time we as a family would get to look at each other while talking through the glass door.
I even used walkie talkies to communicate with the little one for a while.
These 14 days have given me time to pause and think. Think about so many different facets that make for our day to day living. Both from a family perspective and from a community perspective.
There’s the eerie unknown for those who have lost jobs (and even for those still clinging on to jobs). There is the new work from home and social distancing lifestyle. There is the family dynamic between husbands and wives. They never had to be in each others’ face all day every day for over a week. If there are kids, how to keep them engaged day after day.
From a community perspective there’s the way we communicate with friends. There’s the instant knowledge of what our government is doing vis-à-vis other governments. And how lucky we are to be able to just survive what has undoubtedly ravaged countries like China, Italy and Spain.
Tomorrow, however, I will temporarily forget all that.
This is because I upgrade from self-isolation to social distancing.
So, come 6 am, I’m gonna jump in “my” bed and hug the wifey and daughter like there’s no tomorrow.