• Chris Tran

Mental Cages

In March of the Year of the Surgical Mask, 2020, I found myself unofficially quarantined. I, like my friend Jake, had found myself away from my normal apartment. I was isolated in my mother’s guest bedroom. Jake was stuck at his parents’ place, living in the same room he had growing up.

We were both men in our 40s. Successful, single, and stuck reliving our childhoods.

Jake and I had been old friends, and reconnected somehow over our same predicament. While most of our peers were riding out the pandemic in the comfort of their own adult lives, we were back with our parents. Far from our apartments, friends and the modern conveniences that we had painstakingly invested in. Instead, we were surrounded by old karate trophies, garage sale dolls and cases upon cases of Ensure.

Comfortable people tend to complain more. This went doubly for me and Jake. The better off we were, the more it was ok to complain. Jake and I were unkind to our families. We called it prison, and it would have broken our parents’ hearts if they heard.

They were doing what they were supposed to, providing a safe harbor for us wayward souls in a time of distress.

“I’m only doing two days in prison,” I said. “The day I got in, and the day I get out.”

Jake saw it different. He decided that this quarantine time would be one of the best times of his life. This time was not a burden. Instead, this time was a wondrous time, one that he could look back with fondness, if not pride.

Almost a year later, I wish I had been more like Jake, and hadn’t wasted my captivity.

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