Contagion and exceptionalism
Saturday, Jan. 09, 2021 - 10:20 am.

Brother #2 and his son, Nephew #3, got covid over the holidays. My 8-year-old niece got a negative result in her test and my sister-in-law (a medical doctor like my brother) didn't get tested but stayed home. My brother and his teenage son got mild symptoms and are doing better now so I'm relieved, but of course I broke down last night over the terrifying possibilities. I hope they don't get long-term consequences.

I learned about their contagion last night, when he wrote to our family chat. My dad had to make it about him, about how he felt something was wrong over cancelled holiday plans and that it had something to do with his "cyclic illness" (in which he induces himself to vomit and get fever and be dehydrated). My dad does sense when something's wrong with his children, as my mom, as many parents do, but the illness thing is bullshit, this last time he did it was because he hates that my mom is in contact with her sister, with whom he's permanently in conflict. Ugh, and now I'm making this about my dad, too.

Let's make it about me: Andrew showed me my brother's message on his phone while we were... at our friend K's house. I was already angry with myself for going, for not standing my ground when I read the invitation a few days ago, for not sticking to my "no way". This friend group is composed of seven people, including me. We all "take care of ourselves" but some of them still work out of the house (K and her husband are vets), or look after family and have to be out everyday.

One of these friends cancelled a few hours earlier...because someone he'd spent New Year's Eve with had tested positive that day, almost eight days later; he wasn't sure about himself but he was going into isolation and was gonna get tested. I was hoping this would be a wake-up call for the rest of the group, as the virus is infiltrating our closest circles, but no one said let's cancel this little get-together. I didn't have the character to cancel myself half an hour before meeting time.

Another friend picked us up... and he said he had to stop by the fucking supermarket. Andrew and I stayed in the car, and I was feeling at the bottom of an abyss, looking how life outside was going on as usual except with masks on. And I was part of it. I felt like an idiot, I was so regretful and on the verge of tears as our friend drove to a second supermarket because there was a long line to get into the first one. Andrew and I of course never left the car.

After the supermarket, our friend picked up his partner, A., whom I consider my best friend here (even though we don't talk that often), and off we went to K's house. We stayed longer than expected with Andrew, the food and the company weren't so bad. Yet at times sensitive topics would arise, and people at the table would disagree. Those moments were uncomfortable and some of them made me angry, as K's Rich Person Exceptionalism would come up. She's a dear friend but it doesn't take me long to remember why I'm not crazy about hanging out often or for too long.

It was at the end of this soiree that I read the message from my brother. I think A. noticed something was wrong but I put on a poker face for another bit of conversation, until Andrew had the sense to say we were leaving. The couple of friends who gave us a ride agreed it was time to go, and so we also got a ride back home, significantly less stressful than the first one.

I hated myself, and I still do, for meeting with my friends last night. I read the invitation and I didn't reply but I thought "no"; then Andrew and I went to the dentist on Thursday, and the clinic felt safe so we said "Maybe? Yeah?". So the next day we went.

All the time I felt stupid and irresponsible, and all the more so in light of my brother's contagion, who got it while working on the front line and must've felt helpless when he realized he'd passed it on to his son. All the more so in light of an alarming increase in cases in this city that for sure is leading us to another lockdown in the upcoming weeks.

I don't miss going out. I would if I still lived in Sheffield but here, nah. I've been careful and that hasn't felt like a chore to me because it's only entailed staying home, and I'm good at that, and I have all the conditions to do that comfortably. I can only hope no one we met with last night had contracted the virus, I can only wait for 14 days and hope that my disgusting inability to set boundaries does not cost me or Andrew our health. I kind of resent that Andrew did not take a stand on us not going, he left it up to me. I know that came from him being ambivalent about the invitation himself.

I do have to go out these next two Fridays, I'm starting a dental treatment. The clinic is very roomy and clean, and I only have contact with the dentist and the assistant, but I'm having two dentists (one each Friday) because I have two diffent problems, and one of them appears to be puzzling. I don't know if they'll need to keep seeing them after those two appointments, I hope not.

Yet here my most pressing concern is taking an uber back and forth, because you never know if you're gonna get an asshole. Oh, and money, another major concern. I have savings and looking after your teeth is an excellent investment, but it might still hurt my finances.

Shit. Anyway. My work week was fine, somewhat stresseful with demanding students who are about to defend their thesis, but that's for another day. I haven't talked much to my girlfriend, I haven't been in the mood, but she did the monumental thing of taking flowers to my recently deceased cousin's grave on behalf of my family. She's dealing with her own family demands still back in our home country, so I'm trying to be there for her, but I do think this pandemic is sort of taking a toll on me now.

Work this week has got me feeling exhausted, with less energy to keep my guard up, so one of these days I ended up pounding on the table and then getting up and slamming a wall in front of Andrew. It was barely 8 am. I regretted inmmediately and it took me like three minutes to apologize.

It all started because I woke up tired. Then Andrew did something, I reacted, then he reacted all defensive instead of comforting me, I got furious, I snapped. A few minutes later I put all that into words and he said I was right that he had not reacted properly to my reaction (it was quite a chain of events). I acknowledged exploding and hitting things is not the best way to convey my grievance. I apologized again. I was just so hurt, man, I was raging.

I got my period today so you could say that factors in. It's not that I get irrational, it's more that it makes me be truthful about what truly bothers me, but it also allows me to react how I would actually like to react. It feels good when I do the latter, but the aftermath does not always bring relief.

Enough for today, I just want to cry. Please stay safe and don't be like me, learn to say no when something doesn't feel right.

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