Day 5: Losing Track of Time

Upon entering quarantine four days ago, my internal clock had already been thrown off by the fact that I had just completed a round-trip flight to San Francisco and back within a span of 32 hours. On the day that I left, which was a Sunday, I flew out of Incheon Airport around 20:00 and arrived in San Francisco around 15:00 on the same day. By the time that I left San Francisco several hours later just before midnight, from my perspective, I had basically just experienced two whole days that were Sunday. Once I landed back in Incheon Airport it was 04:00 on a Tuesday, which essentially meant that I had lost my entire Monday and started right in with Tuesday as if it was the first day of the new week for me.

If that was not enough to already throw the beginning of the week off for me, I have spent the last four days in this single room with no ability to feel the outside air, although of course I can see out the window. Despite the visibility out my window, it still does not really feel like time has been passing for me. I almost feel like I have been existing in some strange dimension outside the bounds of time itself. As a result, today was the first day since my quarantine began that I actually lost track of the days. Before talking to one of my friends and asking them how their work day was going, I did not realize that it was already the weekend, not a work day. I felt a bit embarrassed, but my friend was very understanding of the fact that it is hard to keep track of the days when you are stuck in a room 24 hours a day with no experiential frame of reference for the passage of time.

As far back as I can recall, even at this point in the quarantine period, this is the longest that I have ever spent in one place without going outside in my entire life. Even when I was very sick at a few different times in my life, either with the flu or a seriously bad cold, I recall at least stepping outside for a couple minutes to release my mind from the confines of my bedroom where I was resting. By the time that I complete this quarantine period, I think the record that I will have set for most time spent in a single place at one time of about fourteen and a half days will stand for the rest of my life.

With all of that being said, all of this time spent in my room has given me a great opportunity to finish a lot of computer work that I have been saving up for this exact occasion. Without having so much work to keep me busy while waiting for time to pass, I have no idea how I would be feeling mentally at this point. Since I have arrived, I have already heard commotion outside my door a few times. I cannot say for sure what it was exactly, but I can definitely tell that some of the other people that are in my same exact situation seem to not be taking it well. Even just today, health department workers came around to every room to hang a sign that instructs everyone in quarantine to not leave their room and to avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, or making loud noise.

It is my prediction that not all of the people that entered quarantine with me will complete the full period. From the sound of things outside my door, people are already getting stir crazy and I believe that some people will ultimately be unable to handle the isolation and leave their room. Unfortunately, doing so breaks the very strict rules that the South Korean government has established for those of us going through quarantine, which means those people are setting themselves up to be deported out of South Korea. It is times like these that I am thankful for having such strong willpower and mental fortitude to pass the time effectively without losing my mind.

Quarantine Day 5 Breakfast, Photo by Author
Quarantine Day 5 Lunch, Photo by Author
Quarantine Day 5 Dinner, Photo by Author

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Keith Dawson

I am just a software engineer trying to make the world better, one line of code at a time