Lockdown, Day -4: we might be…free?

Hello, and happy Monday.

First things first: I’ve decided to get back on the writing grind. From now on, I’ll be sending out a newsletter every Monday at 9:00 AM Eastern Time.

If you want to get my writing in your mailbox every Monday, subscribe to the mailing list here. Much obliged.

We might be…free?

-4 days.

Four days since we’ve been allowed outside, for any reason. Four days of relative freedom.

The prior 55 days were different. We were LOCKED DOWN. We could leave our compound for testing and specific reasons, but we couldn’t cross the Shanghai districts.

Now we’ve been issued a pass that lets us go outside, cross-district, for several hours at a time. Theoretically, one could be out for the whole day, even if the pass stipulates a daily maximum of three to four hours. It’s hard to check or prove the amount of time that’s transpired, so it’s more of a guideline than a hard rule.

The moment things “opened up,” it was hard not to immediately notice the flood trickle of people milling about, in the streets.

Truth be told, it was jarring.

Shanghai had developed a small-town feel for me over the past two months. Now the ‘real’ Shanghai came back into sharp focus. Yes, there are actually people living here. Hiding and surviving in plain sight.

It might take me two more months to fully adjust to the new reality. We’ve gone from too few people to too many, in this writer’s humble opinion.

My sentiment is derived from two factors. One, my introverted and antisocial nature. Two, the mask-wearing behavior of my fellow Shanghai inhabitants.

The masks are off a lot of the time, which is concerning. It’s not hard to wear a mask in public, especially with two months of daily freaking practice.

*Insert emotional rant about whether human beings actually learn from recent events, or regress back to being short-term impulsive people with no general regard for the welfare of their neighbors.*

*Deep breath…*

The silver lining is that our daily walks now extend into different parts of the city. We had been walking in a closed loop for some time. It was getting monotonous.

I don’t know how the Shanghai authorities are labeling the current situation, or what it means with respect to the country’s zero COVID-19 policy. While people are allowed out, the stores and public establishments remain closed. We are trapped in this in-between state of limbo.

One also wonders if this ‘lockdown easing’ is public relations theater, an earnest attempt at returning to normalcy, or something else. Are we given a brief taste of psychological freedom before the reins tighten once more?

While the number of officially reported cases has dwindled into the hundreds, we are dealing with the Omicron variant. Omicron spreads like wildfire. Whether there’s a permanent curve-flattening or we see cases escalate again is the million-dollar question.

These are questions I ask myself, in the abstract. I avoid searching for answers by doomscrolling through my social feed or watching talking heads on Chinese Tik Tok. As I previously wrote, a lot of social media is noise or unconfirmed news or both. I talk to a few people whose opinions I trust and formulate my views from there.

I did go for a run on Saturday morning, which was an incredible feeling. The city is still mostly empty at 6:00 in the morning and the post-apocalyptic vibes kicked in. My 13 kilometer run included a few detours, as many familiar paths were blocked; that didn’t bother me in the slightest. The adrenaline carried me and I’m glad to run again.

For such a straightforward affair, I felt gassed. My legs were more sore than usual compared to past runs. While I’d conducted HIIT and other workouts at home, I hadn’t used certain running muscle groups for some time. Getting back into it, and logging miles, will be fun.

Stay tuned for next week, and I’ll tell you how the situation evolves. Take care of yourself, and be well.


If you want to get my writing in your mailbox every Monday, subscribe to the mailing list here. Much obliged.

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