Somewhere below the surface is a bubble of thoughts. It’s growing more than it’s rising, but it nevertheless bows the surface ever so slightly, thinning out the layer that holds it below. It feels profound and deeply personal. But what it is, I can’t say.

I was first aware of it around the second week that we were all staying in our houses. There were so many emotions and thoughts swirling together I couldn’t perceive, much less identify, them until one day I could feel some thing. Perhaps like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it began with a few wisps of thoughts and reactions that began to circle each other, and then attract more. Or maybe it began with a butterfly flapping its wings on a distant branch. Doesn’t matter.

As a card-carrying introvert, I am not particularly troubled by home confinement. I was already working from home three days a week and have figured out over the years how to stay fresh and productive. As a writer, I even spent some of my off-duty hours in my home office. Weeks piling upon weeks hasn’t been a burden. Projects rise and fall like the tides. Though some rise again and again and just won’t stop because people are basically idiots.

Maybe I need to go for a walk.

A friend writes of missing the hubbub of her city — even missing the tech bros who plow the sidewalks striding four abreast. I do too. But I also enjoy the mutual awareness fostered by the 6-foot rule. Does he see me coming? I’m walking on the edge of the path already. Will he? Oh, he’s moved over. And a smile. Yes, good morning to you! Be well!

I often wonder how it will be after we can leave our homes. Will I ever want to shake someone’s hand? Ew. Will I tolerate waiting in a crowd? Will hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and a mask join my wallet and keys as my everyday kit? I have questions.

Writers on the internet love saying that Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” while housebound during a plague. Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” at 18 while housebound in Switzerland. My daughter uses “gifted” as a verb and I can’t find a good synonym for “housebound.” Last week I read a 2-day-old newspaper, thinking it was the new one. I hate the idiots who say “these challenging times.”

OK, time for another walk.

I live in a small town on the California coast with a 100-year-old main street lined with shops. Most of the shops are closed. The open shops offer to-go food or other “essential services.” I feel guilty going in for fear of catching or spreading the disease. I feel guilty NOT going in for fear of dooming the businesses themselves. I don’t go in anymore.

Some people think that keeping a distance doesn’t apply to them. Some governors think that keeping people off the streets doesn’t apply to them. I love applying the term “COVIDIOTS” but there isn’t a snappy term for the heroes. A doctor in Britain left retirement to help in a hospital and died of COVID-19.

Yep, taking a walk now. And that bubble’s still with me.

Douglas Howatt lives and walks in Half Moon Bay.

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The U.S. Constitution trumps your desire to run other people's lives.

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