My quarantine has been a privileged one. I live most of the year in the flat humid desolation of Middle America, where I’m paid to sound profound. Scarcely a week after I heard the news, I’d packed my belongings into a Montana-bound rental car. I type these words in a house I’ve been coming to since I was a child, a house which belonged to my great uncle. My father wanted to name me after him. My father bought his truck when he left the ranch and didn’t need it anymore; when he came to live in town. My father bought the house after he died here, alone, likely a few feet away from the couch upon which I sit.
My grandmother also lives here. My father moved her here after her husband died. She still refers to this place as her brother’s house. She has dementia but it isn’t too bad yet. I nod as she repeats herself and remind her to take her medication. My dad has been coming here regularly enough to invest in wifi. An air-conditioning unit waits in the closet for the heat of summer months. There’s room for me to work. The entire second floor is effectively mine. My grandmother hardly drives her car, so it’s there for me to use. The town is impossible to get lost in but has everything needed (grocery, pharmacy, hardware, bakery). The state has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.
I came here to work and this I have done. But I also came to watch the sky fade into blue-black as the sun sinks behind the snowcapped Crazy Mountains. I came to crouch under the thick clouds that scoot across the horizon with heavy bellies. I came for green grass and tree buds, for snow and melt and snow again. I came in part to escape what I couldn’t see but more to escape what I could. I hardly leave the house. I imagine the heat trail I leave in my wake, bed to bath to kitchen and back. I imagine the depressions of my feet in the carpet. Outside are power lines and streetlights and joggers and dogs and bikes and gravel. My favorite place, though, is the sunroom, hot in the day and cold at night. It seems to have been added as an afterthought, once its resident realized the need for a place between here and there, a shelter for daydreams.