I’ll just start typing and maybe something of interest will appear. (Cross your fingers and maybe say a prayer.) A lot has happened since my last post LAST YEAR. Ridiculous, I know. I’m a crappy scribbler, and an even crappier shutterbug. But at least I’m also a really crappy quitter, which means I might disappear for a while, but I’ll always come back.
So to catch up whomever might be reading this:
We celebrated our first Christmas as empty nesters, which wasn’t all that bad since the Married Ones came over to spend Christmas Day afternoon with us. I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember what we did New Year’s Eve; I turned 56 in January (which might explain the iffy memory issues); and we celebrated our 28th anniversary in February. I attended a wonderful women’s retreat through our church the last weekend that same month, and as I think back on it and what a delight it was, it’s so weird to realize that two weeks later everything would change drastically around the entire world for everyone.
I vaguely remember hearing about some flu in China, and a few days later the news started using the word “epidemic,” but we didn’t have anything to worry about, and suddenly it was a PANDEMIC and it was HERE. Even then, it was on the west coast and it seemed very far away. My guy (a teacher for the correctional system) was off for spring break the second week in March and we spent most of it working on our house. He went back to work for two days, and then the state decided to send everyone home because the PANDEMIC wasn’t just on the West Coast. It was on the East Coast, and it was in New Orleans, and Dallas, and Houston, and everywhere and anywhere you might even THINK about being…but one thing that wasn’t here, there, or anywhere was toilet paper…and hand soap…and sanitizer…and Lysol wipes. It seemed like we went to sleep one night and the next morning the world had lost its collective mind.
It’s kind of strange because in the early days of the PANDEMIC, I watched ALL THE THINGS. If President Trump, Vice President Pence, and/or the coronavirus task force were speaking, I was listening. And listened to all the other things on the radio. And all the other things on Facebook. And all the OTHER THINGS being said around town…until we were told not to go to town, unless absolutely necessary. So I stayed home. Except to pick up groceries curbside. And that was weird, because where I used to order groceries and schedule a pickup the next day…now pickup slots were a week out. So my usual habit of deciding what to have very shortly before actually having it…well, that was shot to hell in a hand basket. And then restaurants started offering curbside because they were trying to stay ALIVE in an economy that was slowly, slowly, slowly dying. Ordering food online or by phone was the equivalent of hooking the local diner up to a ventilator, the owners praying to survive long enough to make a come back when their patients could be unplugged from this very strange way of doing business. We indulged in curbside restaurant fare more than we probably should have, but HEY! We were doing our part to help keep the independent businesses alive and kicking—even if the social distancing required to get our order made it feel like our dinners were drop kicked from their doorways to the trunk of our car. Our daughter and son-in-law came over for family dinner once a week—I lasted all of 20 minutes without hugging her and then said, “Screw it.”
This went on for a week…two weeks…a month? Maybe six weeks? I forget. It all became such a blur and more often than not, I wasn’t even sure what day of the week it was. I did manage to brush my teeth every day. Dental hygiene is important, you know. And then the powers that be…the president, Congress, the governors, the scientists…someone decided it was kind of safe to move about the cabin. So we began venturing from our homes very cautiously. I remember the night my husband and I decided to actually go to a restaurant for dinner and we were confused by the concept of walking through the door, sitting at a table and waiting for someone to bring us our meals. It was such a treat.
But numbers started going up and BAM! YOU MUST WEAR A MASK. YOU MUST STAY SIX FEET APART. And every time we turned around, someone official was saying something completely contradictory to whatever they’d said the day before or contradictory to their political opponent…we began to think maybe they were just being contradictory for the sake of being contradictory—because good news is no news—and bad news keeps the cameras rolling.
And then we were made to feel uncaring because we questioned and suspected that maybe some of what was being said was more for the sake of ratings than because it was true. Because of all the numbers of people testing positive and being counted as sick, we were almost five months into this thing before I actually KNEW someone who came down with COVID-19. My 46 year old sister, who works as a labor and delivery nurse in Corpus Christi, started feeling really bad the last weekend in July. Some sadist named Grunhilda shoved a long Q-tip up her nose, touching the back of her brain and announced “You’re positive.” She went home to the RV fifth wheel she lives in with her boyfriend and said, “I’m sorry.”
Strangely enough, the world’s most dangerous virus made her feel like crap for five days and then she woke up on day six and felt great. Almost two months later, she still feels fine, and her boyfriend? He never got it, even though they were both confined to that small RV for the entirety of her quarantine.
Having said this, I don’t doubt for a minute that there are people who get very, very sick from this wretched thing, and there are people who die from this wretched thing. That is a tragedy that can’t be measured. But I keep wondering about the quality of the life we’re living and if maybe the “cure” is worse than the disease. What if by staying away from each other, we are possibly living longer because we’re avoiding each other…but WE’RE AVOIDING EACH OTHER, and what kind of living is that? We’re a social people, who need interaction, who need conversation, who need HUGS.
I keep thinking that if all this is only to delay the inevitable, then dammit, what the hell are we doing wasting this, our last? I remember a country song from years ago, sung by Tim McGraw, about a man who got some very bad news from his doctor and then made some changes in his life:
“I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”
There’s got to be some kind of compromise—a way to protect ourselves and others.
I just don’t know what it is.