I can honestly say in my 46 years on this planet I’ve not experienced anything quite like this Coronavirus pandemic. I mean, it’s not like living in some war-torn part of the world. And I’m not worried about mortars dropping in my front yard, or guerilla soldiers coming to my door forcing me to pledge allegiance to some evil dictator or be assassinated in front of my family.
It’s not THAT bad. It’s just incredibly bizarre.
I’ve never walked thru three grocery stores in the same afternoon and not been able to find even one 4-pk of toilet paper. Or frozen vegetables. Or Clorox Wipes. People are buying things up like it’s the end of the world and they’re expecting some major intestinal issues. Driving by bowling alleys, movie theaters, restaurants, and schools to barren parking lots is the stuff of dystopian science fiction, not a typical Midwestern afternoon. It truly feels like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode(maybe the one with Burgess Meredith as the last man on earth.) We’ve experienced those scary new virus and disease warnings before; swine flu, bird flu, Sars, the monkey virus in 28 Days Later, rockin’ pneumonia, and of course the boogie woogie flu. While erring on the side of caution, I’ve never had to hole up in my home for weeks at a time, delegated to social distancing and self quarantine. It feels like I’m hiding out from some invisible boogie man hiding in a stranger’s cough or sneeze.
While it seems strange, I’m doing my part. Where a lot of people are staying home or working from home, I’m still working my normal job. I work on a receiving dock, unloading trucks with a forklift and pallet jack. I deal with drivers coming in and out all day, so I’m on the front line of exposure. Fortunately I’m still quite healthy. No coughs, sneezes, wheezes, or fevers. Maybe just a sore back because I lift a lot at work, and my chair is about 10-years past its prime. My wife can work from home, but she is still going into the office. Her office is located in a community center which has been closed to the public, so she’s pretty well quarantined there. All of my kids are home, and probably will be thru the remainder of the school year. E-learning and online classes will be how they finish out the 2019-2020 school year. I’m thankful they can do that, as we all know kids are the worst at hacking and sneezing without covering their damn mouths.
Originally the thought of being stuck at home with everyone for an undetermined amount of time filled with me dread and anxiety, but my tune has changed a bit. I’m officially on a week-long vacation. I’d originally taken this week off as my oldest was home from college for spring break, but now she’s just home for good. So are the younger ones. I’ve decided to make the most of this situation. I’m not going to be filled with anxiety and dread. I’m going to spend each day doing something of worth, be it working on music, writing, reading, listening to records or painting. I’ll work out in the yard and get it ready for the summer. I’m going to walk three miles everyday. I’m going to catch up on some shows and movies, and we’re going to head up to Michigan and stare at the lake. Cause why not?
The number one reason for this social distancing is to be safe and stay healthy. The number two reason is to realign myself with what’s important: family and art. I know there are folks that are truly suffering and freaking out right now. Some people need to be around others. Alone time is not a good time, for their emotional or mental health. I know there are people who are suffering financially because of business closings and a major slow down in customer traffic. And there’s just the general unease of the unknown. How long will it be like this? Will I get sick? Will someone I love get sick? Does anybody care? What will the world look like post-Covid-19? I wish I had an answer for those questions, but I don’t. Deep down I feel like we will get thru this thing. I feel like we’ve seen worse. This isn’t the Black Plague, or the Macarena sweeping the nation. This is a nasty bug that we’ll get thru. Unscathed? I’m not so sure.
I’ve seen a lot of stupid reactions from people not taking this seriously(least of all our own Commander-in-Chief), but I know there’s just as many out there taking this seriously for themselves and others. We’re all in this together, and we’ll all get thru this together. On my walk this morning I got an enthusiastic wave from every driver that passed me. Normally I’d get a wave here and there, but it felt as if those folks I’d passed today were happy to see someone out and about doing their normal routine. I wasn’t letting fear of a virus get in the way of exercise. Neither were they. We were doing our thing on a cold, overcast Midwestern day. One stranger passing another and very happy to see a face not covered in anxiety and panic looking for toilet paper and Clorox Wipes. It felt good to have those little warm moments out in the cold. It was comforting. Hopeful, even.
I hope you’re doing well wherever you’re at. Hang in there. If you’re feeling alone, send me an email and I’ll send one back to you. You’re not alone. Read a book, spin a record, brew some coffee, watch a movie, and I’ll see you on the other side of this.