Postcard From the Pandemic: Tolstoy Under Quarantine

Wayne Scott at Poets & Writers:

In the dark days of quarantine, I have a habit, born of a fretful insomnia, of rising before dawn. Descending the stairs from my attic room, passing second-floor bedrooms, I imagine I am an all-knowing god of some small universe, like Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, and can peer into the dreams of my loved ones.

My wife, who works for a health insurance plan that takes care of low-income people, argues in her sleep (even in her dreams she is in meetings, grappling with the tattered safety net, so many sick and soon-to-be-sick people). My twenty-two-year-old daughter, who will be next to wake up to work on her senior thesis, consoles herself that she wasn’t enthusiastic about the graduation ceremony anyway. My seventeen-year-old son, who fell asleep a few hours ago, will sleep until afternoon. He misses his friends, even as he chides them on social media for their lax compliance with social distancing. He worries about having a lonely eighteenth birthday in two weeks.

One bedroom is empty. My twenty-year-old son, still at an English-speaking college in Berlin, convinced us he was safer to wait out the pandemic there, rather than undertake a risky journey home. On a Facetime call we agreed his plan was best. My wife cried; Berlin is five thousand miles away from us.

More here.