It was the day before Christmas Eve when I tested positive for Covid-19.
Deeply despondent and shook by the fact that I had tested positive, the rest of that day was a blur. I went on what I like to call my “tested positive for Covid” tour- frantic phone calls to loved ones informing them of what was happening, desperate apologies to community members that I had spent time within that week, very creative cursing and mean words to Omicron, and a good couple of hours of self-pitying and sulking on the floor of my apartment living room, knowing that I was about to spend all of the holidays by myself. My dogs just confusedly peered at me from around the hallway corner, confused as to why their furry cuddles couldn’t even cheer me up.
If there’s one thing that my closest homies know about me, it is that every moment of my life is an existential one, and this moment was no exception. My mind immediately started to trailblaze through any and every memory, action, and behavior that might’ve led up to this moment. You could say that I’m a tad bit dramatic; a close friend of mine would say that I just have a “rich inner world.” One of the memories I spent unpacking the most was a commitment that I made to myself earlier this year- that I would retreat and would actually, frfr, rest over the break, by myself. No friends, no boos, no working, no organizing, no nothing. Nada. I was gonna go be in some mountain cabin somewhere, deeply hidden in some magical forest, turn my phone off, and talk to noooooooobody.
And then somewhere, at some point, in the hustle and bustle of life, that commitment to retreat and spend time to myself got lost in the sauce. I had suddenly scheduled all of the friend time, all of the boo time, and all of the “this is definitely not spending time by yourself, Maij” time over break. I never forgot that commitment, I think I just reasoned that this break wasn’t the best time to just go and retreat somewhere because, ya know, the holidays. You’re supposed to be with other people, right? Not sitting at home, by yourself, with nothing but your thoughts and a chest so wracked with congestion that every breath vibrates your chest like a fun concerto of mucus. Sure, there’s facetime and netflix and fun self-therapy memes to scroll through on social media but ultimately, at the end of the day, I wanted to be making fun holiday cookies with my pod buddies and snuggling with my boos. It wasn’t until after a couple of hours of self-wallowing and sniffling on my living room floor and a nice hot epsom salt bubble bath did another wave of emotions run through me.
Relief that, as much as I loved my homies, I didn’t have to perform for nobody. Relief that, within the confines of my 2 bedroom apartment, I could literally do whatever I wanted to and pleased, including being the cutest couch potato that the world has ever seen. Relief that whenever somebody hit up my phone for literally anything, I could be like “sorry, omicron got me” and folks would immediately back off (or shower me with gifts- god bless doordash). No one had any expectations of me. Did my throat feel like a thousand knives were being shoved down my throat? Did my congestion feel like an endless sludge of mucusy waterfalls? Did my body feel like it was run over by a train several times over? Was I terrified of getting worse? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I am very, very lucky to be a fully vaccinated and boosted, physically healthyish (mentally, ehhhh) 25 year old with resources and a community full of care.
The truth is, as someone who spends 98% of their waking existence in service to others, performing for others, ministering to others, living and breathing for others- being sick with covid and spending the last 10 days by myself was one of the few moments of my life where I actually felt free. The paradox of being trapped in my apartment and feeling free still befuddles me. I don’t really understand it and I probably never will, but that’s how I felt. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, I’ve come to learn that sometimes, you’ll never really understand or get to the root of your feelings. Sometimes you’ll just watch them come and go like the weather.
So. What did I end up doing over break? I’m glad you asked.
I rested. I took bubble baths. I napped on the couch and didn’t set a timer. I only talked to other people when I wanted to talk to them. I painted some dope art pieces. I painted some terrible ones. Gazed outside my window. Binged some anime. Drank some water. Drank some tea. Read for pleasure. Did a tarot reading. Examined the gaps between my toes. Took another bubble bath. Disassociated. Disassociated some more. Cried. Laughed. Sat in some sunlight. Spent time with my ancestors. Spent time with myself. Do nothing.
Do nothing. Thank God.
If you’re reading this e-newsletter reflection, I want you and your mama to know that I didn’t do sh*t over break but become my favorite quarantine buddy. And if you didn’t do anything for nobody too, good for you. When the rest of the world also collectively decides to do nothing together, it will be a glorious day. Because all these systems want us to do is to keep doing. Keep doing this, keep doing that. I hope we break it all with our nothing, cus what we currently got going on isn’t working.
You’re doing great, friend.
Maij Mai, MDiv (he|they) | Coordinator, The CLGS Asian/Pacific Islander Roundtable