A Four-Walled World

Thursday May 27th. That’s the day restaurants closed for dine-in in Ho Chi Minh City and the last day I met a friend for lunch. In other words, it’s been 43 days since I ate in a restaurant and interacted face-to-face with a human being I know who’s not my partner.

For 43 days, it’s been me, my partner, and I. We’ve been cooped up within our own four walls—working, cooking, eating, sleeping, ordering takeaway once a week from our favourite burger joint, working out on Tuesdays, going for a run on Fridays, occasionally going for a long walk on Sunday.

Life has been routine and at points stifling. On and off, each of us has suffered from cabin fever. Some days I’d go out walking at mid-day just to feel the sun burning my skin, liberating myself in the oppressive heat.

At 0:00 this morning, a new directive went into effect which decreed only absolutely essential activities are allowed outside the house. The wording of the directive is open to interpretation (and indeed there was much confusion last night over whether restaurants have to completely close or can still deliver with their own riders), but my partner and I are planning to adhere strictly to it—this means leaving the house for food and food only. Which means no more running and long walks in the sun.

Yet another prized activity is taken away from us, the run which we drag ourselves out of bed for (with much difficulty) each week and from which we always return rejuvenated. Running, even with masks on, felt uninhibited. Simply being outside and letting your legs take you down the main streets and weaving in and out of alleys, that was freeing.

So now we’re left with indoor exercise, our routine life of work-eat-sleep, and lots and lots of cooking, which fortunately we both enjoy and are relatively good at.

Thankfully, this most recent lockdown coincides with our move to a bigger, two-bedroom apartment. Since I moved over in March, we’ve been living in a one bedroom that’s much too small for two grown adults who need lots of personal space and have diametrically opposed preferences (he likes music, I like quiet).

The new apartment is much more expensive, but also significantly more spacious, with a separate office one of us can go into, be it to work or to have some alone time. It also comes with two balconies, one of which is currently hosting my partner who’s out there reading in the cool breeze while I sit typing this on the dining table (pictured).

With this extra room (literally), lockdown should be more pleasant than before and not as stifling, but we shall see.

At a time when parts of the world (i.e. the vaccinated) are returning to normality, it feels strange to still be cooped up in the four walls of our apartment, experiencing the world from a distance through glass windows. It feels like lockdowns should be a thing of the past, except that they’re not. And they won’t be until Vietnam gets its act together and vaccinates us.

My partner and I, as business owners, have registered for Covid-19 vaccines with a private medical clinic. We’re hoping to hear more about when the doses will arrive and when we can get our first shot in the next few weeks. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s sooner rather than later.

Even though restrictions will probably still be in place, at least we can live free of the fear of infection and hospitalisation. My partner being in a risk group, this fear for us now is very real. And no matter what precautions we take, the fear is there, lingering in the back of our minds. So I will be glad when both of us have gotten our two shots.

But that’s some time into the future yet.

For now, it’s me, my partner, and I in our new four walls. Living our routine life in contentment and frustration. I know full well we lead comfortable lives and are better off than many others, but I do sorely miss restaurants and going out to see friends. And so does he.

It’s been 43 days since either of us did that. Let’s hope it’s not another 43 days until we can do it again.

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