March is not shaping up in the way I expected. Right now, I thought I’d be on the Big Island of Hawaii, traversing the lava tubes Volcano National Park, stargazing from the peak of Mauna Kea, enjoying the peaceful solitude of a little cabin tucked away in the forest. I expected to return to Oahu on my birthday to greet my family, who was coming to visit me and attend the disestablishment ceremony of my workplace, which I had helped plan.
Canceled, canceled, canceled.
Instead, I’m rich with the refunds brought about by a global pandemic – and rich in disappointment, too. I will spend my birthday at work, where we are bringing in our own disinfecting supplies because we can’t find any on base, and I will sing “happy birthday” twice to myself every time I wash my hands.
I don’t feel especially stressed, but my body betrays me: I have acne on my face, hives on my chest, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, jaw sore from grinding my teeth. I lash out at people and I don’t know why. My hands can’t go an hour without reaching for my phone to check the local news.
In another sense, though, I was made for social isolation. My most favorite things are solo activities, all of which I can still keep doing. In fact, I’ve felt quite fulfilled in using my extra time to do things that made me happy, almost as an imperative to stay busy and sane – and it’s been a true joy to witness and experience the creative ways people are connecting with one another, especially from a distance.
One of those ways is Animal Crossing: New Horizons.