Notes on the Grippe

Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.

Day Two Hundred Sixty Six

You grew up on a farm a long way and several gravel roads from anywhere. Or you lived in a forgotten town, just off a highway where the traffic passed by never stopping. Or maybe it was the wrong side of the tracks of a bustling community, sagging fences marking the boundaries of your yard, rusting machinery gathering like thistle in barbed wire.

All of these were in the Quarter, though you didn’t know what that was, what that meant, only that it was nowhere. You would stand in a pasture, or look ahead on whatever road you were on, and see that endless horizon and feel the weight of it pressing down on your chest, like a car rolled over and trapping you underneath. Maybe it was on your way home from school, walking with a backpack over one shoulder, or sitting on the bus hoping no one spoke to you and intruded upon your thoughts, that the idea came into your head that you would get out of this place. Whatever it took you would get out of here.

You did, of course. There are always roads out of the Quarter. Whether it was a desire to know, to see all that there was of the world, or just a desperation not to see the same damn faces for the rest of your life, you slipped past the borders of the Quarter and never looked back.

Except that was never quite true, certainly not as true as you wanted it to be. People would ask where you were from and you would tell them. Reluctantly or evasively, or even as a point of pride. Or maybe as though it was something to be embarrassed about, which you regretted even as you couldn’t stop yourself from doing it. People were fascinated in a way that made you uncomfortable. That person they saw wasn’t you. Except it was.

You went to school and then wandered away, going as far as you could. Or you moved away by degrees, first to a small nearby city where you thought you would be comfortable, but it was all the same people there. Too many familiar faces. The same problems, the same delights. You got tired of that so you moved on to another city and another, farther and farther out, until none of the faces you saw were familiar. And you felt that at last you could be yourself.

But who was that? When you are alone and you close your eyes, do you see that long horizon? Do you feel the wind upon your face? Do you head out along those roads that seem never to end, never to get anywhere. Do you wonder if you ever really left at all, if you ever could?

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