Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2022 @ 9:08 am
COVID in Croatia
I write from a small island in Dalmatia, an island without cars. The sun is rising, and the air is thick with humidity and smoke from the forest fire in Slovenia.
From my balcony, I have a panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea. Punctuating the view are stone bell towers, palms, and Mediterranean cypress.
The sea is quiet in the morning. Still, glassy surface. Locust whirr fills the air, like loud static, a TV left on in the night.
I have COVID.
The fever wracking my body. Wet sheets twisted around me, the world unfamiliar and foggy. I can't breathe. The fits of coughing, ropes of mucus that I can't expel. Drowning in an attic room in an ancient walled town.
One afternoon, I walked slowly along the path under the olive trees to a rocky outcrop at the edge of the sea. I slipped into the cool water, my feverish body floating there in the impossibly clear sea. I pulled my mask over my tangled hair, bit down on the snorkel, and turned face down.
The fish of the Adriatic. Sea bream and wrasse. Round black sea urchins strewn across the white rocky bottom. A bright orange sea star. Sea cucumbers as long as my forearm piled luridly along cracks and holes.
Walking back to my room, the drying seawater forming up into salt crystals on my skin, I think about how I will always think of this trip in the context of being sick. The emotional overwhelm of watching the test line show up thick, darkly positive, and how my plans instantly had to change. How it reminded me of the feeling of losing my virginity. The dream-like daze of walking around the next morning, thinking about the feeling of a man being inside of me, thinking about the viral weapon my body has become.
I think about stairs now, and the distance from the station to the inn. I think of the weight of my bag and the location of the nearest pharmacy.
The bells ringing at the monastery. The drone of a boat motor in the bay. A woman hanging sheets out in this lank morning air.
What will I be able to do today?