“Boredom is so personal,” says writer and filmmaker Amanda Jane Robinson, who finds time in lockdown expanding to allow contemplation of her internet search history, crosswords, and dance routines to a Britney Spears medley.
There’s a corner in my bedroom where the afternoon light hits just before five, right underneath my boyfriend’s Bruce Springsteen poster. We’ve been in this place, a stuccoed two-bedroom flat we share with Vanessa, for almost three months now, but I hadn’t noticed this particular contour of light until this week. Usually I’m not home until after six.
My phone keeps notifying me my screen time average is up. No duh. My search history: prescription retinol, Playboy cover archive, Mars One mission update, charbono wine, Fran Lebowitz’s New Yorker profile, Demi Moore Bruce Willis quarantine, garlic lemon anchovy chicken recipe, Hélène Châtelain death, song lyrics (I was trying to learn the French verse), the news, and an online quiz where you name all the countries of the world in twelve minutes. I always forget San Marino. I downloaded a Sudoku app but even the hard ones got too easy, so now I’m doing the crossword every day instead. Vanessa’s learning to knit; we’re constantly lighting candles. It’s all feeling very Laura Ingalls Wilder.
We started out with some kind of structure, it’s just that boredom is so personal. The first day we worked out, I almost fainted. Since then we’ve toned it down; Yoga with Adriene, tai chi, a dance routine to a Britney Spears medley. We exercise in the courtyard next to the pots where Vanessa, presciently, began growing chillies, lettuce, passionfruit and coriander when we moved in. I’ve been on a few long walks, sometimes stopping in at supermarkets to browse the groceries I’d never usually buy. I miss the bubble tea place up the road so I bought tapioca pearls in memoriam. I made dal and flatbread and labneh; hung the fancy yoghurt from the washing line in a Chux cloth overnight and voila. I bought the most expensive brie at the cheap supermarket. There are always dishes and we don’t even have children. My boyfriend and I argue about kids' names as if the world will last that long. Maybe it will, I don’t know. I’ll probably have a baby either way because I’m selfish and grew up Christian. I think it’s a good sign he and I aren’t sick of each other yet. It makes sense: my love languages are time and touch.
I miss touching everyone else though; that radiant warmth of a friend’s bare back when you hug her at a party, the courteous graze of shoulders as you move through a crowd at a show or opening or gig or screening, a handful of dirty change exchanged for a late-night frozen Coke.
It’s taking everything I have not to pet the neighbour’s cat. I know it’s not polite to trend forecast, but I’m hedging my bets on eco-terrorism, erotic thrillers, and satin evening gloves. Mostly I miss restaurants and outfits.
For the first week I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was drinking plum wine and smoking again. My appetite for movies eventually returned, a colossal relief. I’ve watched fourteen since lockdown officially began, almost all of them about blondes: Gena Rowlands, Natasha Lyonne, Grace Kelly, Rosanna Arquette, Catherine O’Hara, Delphine Seyrig, Kate Hudson. I watched Tiger King and regretted it. I watched Zia Anger’s My First Film and the whole world opened up.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Perfume Genius since Bernie dropped out, something about doom and a pop song. In December a psychic told me I should try and save money and look at me now: twelve weeks worth of government wage subsidy accruing interest in my account. My boss keeps calling to tell me I probably won’t lose my job. I keep forgetting to add hair dye to the shopping list.