It was Day 5 of San Francisco's "shelter-in-place" mandate. Saturday.
Usually Lulu had brunch on Saturdays, at Tartine Manufactory or another hip brunch spot in the Mission, with rotating groups of friends. Prior to brunch, she'd go on a run or to the gym.
After brunch, she'd run errands - spa, manicure, shopping - before meeting up with a friend for coffee, and then meeting up with more friends, or sometimes a date, for dinner and drinks.
Her Instagram account always got a lot of love on Saturdays.
Today, Lulu woke up at 8am, as always (her body had a natural alarm clock).
After a half glass of water, she put on running clothes, slipped in her air pods, and headed down the stairs of her walk-up apartment building.
She had to open two doors on her way out and made a mental note to herself, "Do not touch your face."
She repeated this mantra to herself for the next 40 minutes during her 5 mile run,
as wisps of hair blew into her face and she tried to shake off persistent itches while trying to keep 6 feet of distance between herself and everyone she passed.
On the way home, she passed by a bakery which had not yet shut down and picked up a coffee and a croissant egg sandwich. When she got back to her studio apartment, it was 9:15am.
She kicked off her sneakers and went to wash her hands.
While eating her breakfast, Lulu scrolled Instagram, and then Facebook. On Facebook, it seemed like every other story was about the coronavirus.
Between friends urging everyone to stay home, parent friends sharing photos of the creative things they were doing with their kids under quarantine,
and single friends sharing photos of the creative ways they were "social distancing" on the beach and through Zoom happy hours,
were news articles about how much and how fast the virus was spreading, people who had died, and how much the economy was tanking. Lulu shuddered. How did the world change so fast?
And what was she supposed to do today? It was 9:45am when she looked up from her social scrolling.
After she called her parents, took a shower, put on her makeup, and cleaned her apartment, it was 11:00am.
She got a message on Tinder. It was from Bill, who she had chatted with for a few days a few weeks ago before deciding he was more a "friend zone" guy than someone she'd date.
Hey. How are you holding up?
I'm okay, she typed back. She didn't feel the need to wait before replying. She wasn't interested in him anyways. Crazy times. How are you?
Tbh, a little stir-crazy. A little bored. Want to break this quarantine with me?
What would we do?
I'd pick you up, and we can drive to Canada. I have 2 loaves of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a Costco-sized package of water bottles. We'd be good for a week.
Lulu tried to think of a witty response, but got distracted by some texts from friends and decided to just leave the thread hanging. Besides, she was already feeling a bit cooped up.
When Lulu decided to move into a 600 foot studio apartment in the Mission, her parents thought she was crazy.
That's smaller than your childhood bedroom! It's okay, I'll only use it for sleeping anyway, she reassured them.
And it was mostly true - Lulu spent most evenings out, if not with friends, in cafes where she caught up on email or read the news while enjoying a drink.
Now, she stared at the distressed brick wall, her "kitchen" which was really just a mini fridge, sink, and a tiny square of counter space,
and the white loveseat with coral throw pillows she had treated herself to when she first moved in. She had done her best with the space; it was cute.
For gentleman visitors, it gave off a chic, artsy vibe with the minimalist furniture, leaning full-length mirror, curated books, fresh flowers,
and a large bold oil painting of a woman's profile above her bed. In fact, it did really well on Airbnb the few times she put it up when she went on vacation.
She took a quick breath and suddenly felt as if the walls were starting to close in on her. She had to get out.
She grabbed a coat, slipped on a pair of flats and jogged down the stairs, this time using her elbows to open the doors on her way out.
As she paced down Valencia, she found herself veering sideways to avoid people, who did the same as they passed her, each side acknowledging the other with an awkward nod.
The streets were definitely quieter than normal, and the restaurants that were open were lonely and desperate.
When she headed back upstairs with a burrito and a small bag of groceries from the local market, it was 2pm.
After her burrito, she read more depressing news about the coronavirus, called two friends, texted with a few different friend groups, did some online shopping,
and made herself pasta for dinner. She took a photo of her pasta with a glass of wine and created an Instagram story with the caption "I actually cooked #socialdistancing."
She ate the pasta on her loveseat (no dining table), and after eating, moved to her bed (the loveseat was too small to really curl up in). She screamed into her pillow.
Then she texted Bill. When are you picking me up?