Jess Nickelsen: Discombobulated
February 4, 2022 - Covid's Making Me a Hermit


this is what the morning coffee looks like these daysthis is what the morning coffee looks like these days

I mean, I’m sure I had tendencies. As a child I would lock myself in the toilet to read. Whenever I was sent to my room for a punishment I’d stay in there longer than necessary, again, reading. I like long car trips, long train trips, long airplane trips. Anything where I can lose myself in books and notebooks.

So it’s really not all that surprising that even though we’re not really in lockdown (instead we are now at red’ in our traffic light system, due to Omicron reaching NZ shores) my inclinations are to still stay at home.

I’ve been doing more online shopping. Doing click and collect” at the supermarket. Trying to pick up any extras just at the tiny local 4 Square rather than venturing out into the wider world. Life has become…smaller. I don’t know if I should be bothered by this, or if it’s just some Emily Dickinson moment.

It would seem that others of my generation are finding it relatively easy to just stay home as well. Maybe it is a generational thing, though it’s probably just the introverted ones.

(This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, but I liked it.


I need to get a few things, clothes-wise. Honestly can’t be arsed going into a shopping mall or even just a little shop somewhere to try on clothes in a little changing room under fluorescent lights. Need to pick up some glue sticks and a scrap book for Moo, and a memo block refill, and bits-and-bobs.

Cue online order.

Again, I’ve always been one to err on the side of caution with this kind of stuff. (You know, all the other pandemics we’ve had in the past.) But it’s also—I suspect—that I like that we can do all this stuff without having to venture out. Maybe I’ve played too many zombie apocalypse video games, read too many survival books, and some internal fantasy of withdrawing from the world is playing out.

I’m indulging it for now, because why not? I do the daily school run (or run down to the bus stop, if we’re on schedule), make chitchat at the school gates. I’m not a complete basket case. But I wonder at the larger impact that this will have on society. If I’m feeling like this, in my tongue-in-cheek-way, there must be many other people who are genuinely retreating. There was a piece in the news just earlier in the week to say that there’s been a rise in the number of families looking to homeschool. The government is desperately trying to send out messaging for people to shop as usual,” but businesses are already reporting downturns.

People are staying home.

(As an aside, I hate these reports from the business sector that just look at consumer spending,” like all we are is dollar signs to business owners. They talk about people spending less due to uncertainty, and yet in the next breath discuss high rates of debt. Like, you can’t have it both ways?)

But what’s great is that all of this internet stuff that’s ruining our abilities to have meaningful face-to-face contact (apparently) is also enabling us to have complete, full, lives at home. My husband’s working from home. I’ve had a bit of work pop up too. I have several evening Pathfinder games every week that we play on Roll20. We can email, face time, etc.

OK, this is nothing new. But it’s like, how fortuitous that these stars have aligned for this moment in time? Despite all of the hardship that the pandemic has imposed on so many, it’s also worth (sorry, am Pollyannaing) taking a sec to look at how much worse it could have been.

Someone said to me yesterday that she thought we were nearing the tail end of things.” I really don’t think this is the case, personally. But in any case, it is going to be so interesting, say in ten years’ time, to look back on this point in history and remember what it was like, as we were living it. Maybe these things all seem obvious to read them right now. But I think looking back it will all seem like a very strange (and hermitty) dream.