I woke up a few days ago and immediately asked, “What is that smell?” The stench was awful. It was akin to rotten eggs or maybe sewage. At first, my girlfriend and I were worried something had happened, like a gas leak. Or maybe a neighbor was up to something (anything goes in quarantine life). We even wondered if one of our pets had been ill. But, finding nothing, we opened windows, turned on vents, and went about our day.
Later, I read about the bioluminescent algae that had arrived to the coast of Southern California. I’d heard about it from friends, but hadn’t paid much attention. Until the smell. Turns out, since the red tide (as it was so-named from its color in daytime) has been around for nearly a week, parts of it are beginning to break down. Hence the smell of deterioration. We don’t even live next to the ocean. It carries that well. The algae contain phytoplankton that appears red in daylight, but changes to a brighter, different color come nightfall.
A few nights ago, my girlfriend and I decided to go see what all the bioluminescent buzz was about. Beaches have re-opened with restrictions, so we drove to the coast just after sunset. Donning our masks, we stood and peered out at the water.
When the waves crested, we saw it. Like the little girl standing with her family six feet away, I said, “Wow!” It was like the water was charged; lighting up an electric blue as the wave rose, then fell as it rushed toward the beach. Wave after wave, the water glowed in flashes of light against the dark water.
Quarantine life hasn’t been easy. Uncertainty still runs rampant. Remote teaching is tough. I find I’m keeping in touch with loved ones more than I did before Covid-19, which is great. But living life around video conferences for work and socializing feels bizarre. I’ve wondered more than once when life will get back to normal, but even if it does, what will “normal” look like?
Getting out, even for a little while (under proper social distancing conditions) was like a breath of algae-deteriorating fresh air. Watching a natural phenomenon occur – ocean life continuing its journey, blissfully ignorant to the state of the human world – was like lifting the veil of monotony life in quarantine can create. It was a moment of light in challenging times.
What has helped you in quarantine? Are you baking? Re-reading one of your favs? Binge-watching? Sleeping? Exercising? Maybe all of the above? Whatever it is, I hope it helps and I hope you’re well.
This month, I’m giving away a paperback of my novel Daughter of No One (Book 1 of the Odium Trilogy). Book 2 will be out this fall! Leave a comment to enter and a winner will be drawn 7pm PST on Sunday May 10th!