It was day one hundred and sixty four of Home Isolation and Mark Schwartz was unsettled. He kept asking himself, ‘’What kind of life am I leading?’’ He lived in a one bedroom apartment with his dog Mookie, and he knew every nook and cranny.

At the beginning of quarantine, Mark thought he could handle the isolation with no problem. He was glad his parents were safe and sound and at the family house in Thornhill. He had thought about moving back there with them, but he was in Ottawa and the weather had not been cooperative. The snow had been pounding down and the infectious disease specialists had said Covid-19 was not breaking down because the cold air kept the virus alive. It just hung in the air.

Mark worked for the Ministry of Inter-Governmental affairs, so theoretically he was still on the job. He had been in his position for three years and he still wasn’t sure what he did. The Ministry told him he was being paid during the pandemic, but he had to be available for consultations. So far there had been a bunch of boring webinars, and a couple of Zoom meetings, but when it came to actual work, it was things that required twenty minutes of his time. He had reviewed two documents and written one memo about lunch breaks being extended when they got back to the office.

It was while watching an episode of IZombie that Mark started thinking about his plight. He walked Mookie every morning along the Rideau Canal and he enjoyed the fresh, brisk air and the beauty. He wore a mask and gloves and he never stopped to talk, but there was something about being out when the sun was rising that made a person feel alive.

Next he started thinking about his day, he would get in touch with his parents and make sure they were okay. He would then check his Future League Sports situation. He would do a Zoom call with his friend and former roommate, Richie, and they would shoot the breeze. Richie was getting married and his fiancée was having a breakdown because they had booked a huge banquet hall in Toronto and she was having a hard time getting their deposit back.

Mark would make a big breakfast of a bagel, eggs, lox and cream cheese and then spend a few minutes talking with his Sister and Great Niece Hannah over What’s App. He would check his inbox from the office and then he’d work out. He’d take a hot shower and check Covid-19 numbers for Ottawa.

After his shower Mark would have a quick Zoom meeting with his Department Manager, Marie LaVerre. Marie would share her thoughts about being a Single Mother at home with her toddler. Rarely did she mention anything about work.

Once that call ended, Mark checked out JDate to see if there were any women he could contact. It was always exciting to get a message in your inbox from a woman who wanted to get to know you. He loved dating, and virtual dating was really interesting. It was nice to be able to see what a person looked liked and how they acted before you met in person.

Over the last three months, Mark had made contact with about eight different women via the site and they all had become friends. He looked forward to going on real dates when the pandemic slowed. It was nice to be able to communicate with them on a daily basis. It took up a good chunk of time, and it was fun.

In the afternoon, Mark watched his favourite Netflix series and at least one movie.

He walked Mookie one more time before dinner, and then it was back to his apartment. He loved where he lived because he had an amazing view of the City.

After Dinner, Mark worked with a woman he had hired from Fiverr, to design an app. It was for people who walked their dog and it was like Waze. It told people what to look for when they were out and about. If there was a Covid hot zone, people would be made aware of it.

At least twice a week, Mark used Uber Eats or Door Dash to deliver food. He liked to have Italian on Thursday Nights and Pizza on Saturday Nights.

Mark started to think about things, and he had an epiphany. He was leading a great, albeit different kind of life.

Mookie brought his toy over and Mark played with him and realized that he couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. Why had he been kvetching so much. Yes Covid-19 did pose a huge risk to a person’s health, but he was taking every precaution possible.

The reality was, that Mark could look at his situation in two ways, one as a trapped individual, the other as a person who was taking life and enjoying the chance to do things, that under normal circumstances he could never do. It was a huge wake up call.

When Mark went to bed that night he was grateful for everything and he told himself he would never question what was going on again. When the vaccine rolled out and people were inoculated, life would go back to the way it used to be, he now wondered if that would be such a good thing. Life was filled with twists and turns, but if you navigated them properly it could turn into a rich, rewarding, smooth drive

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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