I slept at 8.00 a.m. yesterday. Not until 8.00 a.m. but at 8.00 a.m. For the first time in a long time, I had the luxury of watching Netflix all night. And binge I did. Money Heist, Part 4. I was singing Bella Ciao until I finally fell asleep.
Alex woke me up about four hours later. She was cooking lunch and she reminded me that I was going to take photos. Right. Food blogger, after all. She was making kimchi cauliflower “fried rice” and wanted to know if she could use all the kimchi in the fridge. I told her to go ahead.
For some reason, kimchi had become our go-to vegetable dish. It keeps well in the fridge for a long time and it really is quite versatile. When the neighborhood Korean minimart announced that it would close until its stocks arrived, we were able to buy a bag of chili powder for making kimchi at home. Both Sam and Alex want to experiment. Sam wants to ferment the cabbage at room temperature; Alex prefers to do it in the fridge.
They cook a lot these days. Sometimes just to break the monotony and ease the boredom. Speedy says he’s getting fatter and fatter. He can’t go out except to buy food or to withdraw cash from the ATM. During the early days of quarantine, I had this nagging suspicion that he was going out to buy food for the pantry much too often because it was his only excuse to get out of the house.
One night, he asked me what we’d do if he caught the virus. He’d have to move to a bedroom upstairs, the one I use as a study, I said, and we’d just bring him food. He’d have to use Alex’s bathroom and Alex would move downstairs with me. And if we need to bring him to the hospital? I said I’d call an ambulance. If there’s none, the girls and I will somehow have to get him into the pick-up, and I will have to drive to the hospital with my expired driver’s license. I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t thought all that out before. I had. And I had worked it all out down to the last detail.
I wondered though why he asked. I’m the one who’s always prepared for death. When I had my gall bladder surgery, I was leaving instructions with Speedy right there in the hospital, but he started to cry so I stopped. When the COVID-19 threat started to get really serious, I wrote an updated holographic will in case I die from this virus. And the will has a codicil with all the instructions and passwords they’d need to keep everything going.
So, why was he asking for details about what we’d do in case he got sick? Was he sick? And he told me about one time when, after a trip to the grocery, he got in the pick-up, and he was perspiring so much that he removed his face mask and wiped his face with his bare and unwashed hands. As soon as he did, he panicked and paranoia set in. He’d clear his throat and wondered if it was a cough. But you’d been habitually clearing your throat since I’ve known you, I told him. He feels something in his chest, he said. Do you have difficulty breathing? I asked. No, he replied. Alex said he was pointing at that spot on his chest that meant he was getting acid reflux. Acid reflux. You know. Overeating. Three of us cook and he eats every time someone cooks.
After that, I stopped worrying about Speedy making excuses about going out when he gets restless. He now gets too paranoid when he’s out. There’s always someone somewhere who coughs without covering his mouth. There are still families going out together to the grocery. And he will never forget that time he touched his face without having washed his hands. I bet he’ll never ever do that again. He only goes out every few days now. Twice or thrice a week. Good for him. Good for us.