Time for a little math.
Previously on the pandemic, we were more than a quarter of the year into a global shutdown brought on by the relentless COVID-19 novel coronavirus that’s become one of the banes of our 2020 existence. Now, less than two weeks from the start of Month 4 of our ongoing season of self-isolation, things are not where they should be, by which I mean we should have managed this situation, already.
Alas, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Bay Area are on the rise. California is closing parking at state beaches this three-day weekend, on account of the good ol’ Fourth of July holiday, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has had to stress the importance of face masks once again (get with the program, people, or get ready to be cited and possibly fined, OK). Meanwhile, across the States, new cases and hospitalizations are peaking in South Florida. And you heard about the Washington, D.C., socialite, right, the one who could not help herself and reportedly hosted a bunch of people (about two dozen!) for virtual-charity after-party in situ at her house, which then became a mini-COVID-19-outbreak hot spot.
I guess that’s what some people do, when they get a third of a year now to reflect, huh: they deflect responsibility and throw caution to the wind.
We carry on, though.
E and I met at Trader Joe’s, when we both were crew at the same store. We bonded once over our previous work as writers and editors. She is a talented singer, songwriter, and musician, who plays around the Bay with The Buds, a local band (in April, she posted a powerful song titled “This Song” that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit). We caught up recently.
King of Cups: How have you been doing this season of self-isolation? How are things with the family and work?
E: I’m hanging in there, for the most part. I’m not “isolated” in the sense that many people are, because I have an “essential-services” job: I can’t “work at home.” I work in a grocery store, four or five days a week. I’m around a lot of people a lot of the time. If anything, I appreciate my alone time more than most. Other people joke about finding things to do to pass the time, home projects to start or finish, drawers and closets to clean. I can barely keep up with my regular household chores. Oh well. I do feel, sometimes, that friends are afraid to see me, because I’m more at risk of exposure every day than most people. Since March, I’ve had just one socially distanced outdoor get-together with one formerly very intimate friend, a few socially distanced outdoor meetups with some local politically active friends, and a few more get-togethers with one dear, dear friend. Oddly, although she’s much more vulnerable than most people, she seems most willing to make the effort to see me. I guess she’s just more caring, or more daring. I was tested for COVID-19 the other day, results negative (yay), and haven’t been to work since then, so in light of that, this dear friend invited me to come spend time with her at her home today [this interview was conducted 10 days ago]. It was my first indoor visit with anyone, other than in my workplace. We generally kept more distance than we would have pre-pandemic, but we skipped the masks this time. It was a very relaxing afternoon. We hugged – briefly, faces away – in greeting and in parting. I’ve enjoyed some long phone calls, a few FaceTime calls, a Zoom and a Whereby meeting, and some live-streamed concerts by lovely musician friends. But none of this compares to actually being in the company of your loved ones. I don’t have the wherewithal to play music with my own band in any shared/online format. I’d rather play with them in person, anyway. I sorely miss that. I play well on my own, and have kept my chops from getting too rusty, at least. I’ve posted a few very, very low-tech bits of my playing and singing online, warts ’n’ all. At work, we take precautions, and we insist customers do the same, but it’s not foolproof. In a sense I feel that getting tested once was almost pointless (other than it facilitated today’s visit with my friend), since I’m constantly being exposed to so many other people. I feel as though I need to be tested frequently and/or get an antibody test. I’m one of those people who never/rarely gets sick with whatever is raging through the population around me. If I am exposed, though, I could become an asymptomatic carrier, and that troubles me.
King of Cups: Looking within, what trait do you feel has helped you carry on the most?
E: I seem to be channeling my mother a lot of late, bringing her cheerful, efficient, can-do – and, when necessary, bossy – demeanor to bear on a regular basis. She would be 107 were she alive today. She was 5 years old during the 1918 flu pandemic (oft misnamed “the Spanish flu”). She was the child of working-class Irish immigrants in Massachusetts, and I recall hearing she lost friends and family members to it. I like to think I’m resurrecting some of her wisdom, though that comes along with some of her demons.
King of Cups: What have you noticed is most needed in your community?
E: Testing, testing, testing! Let everyone know how and where they can get tested, and that it’s not as bad as people have described. (OK, a poke/swab way up the nostrils isn’t exactly pleasant, but it’s brief.) Here’s a good resource: Color.com. I’m not sure they offer antibody testing; I haven’t found any reference to it on their site. WE NEED IT! Masks, masks, masks, masks! Buy them, make them, whatever, but WEAR THEM! Lots of people are wearing masks, but I still see too many who are not. Do NOT get cavalier about this thing; it is NOT GONE. WEAR YOUR MASKS, PEOPLE!
King of Cups: What do you hope will be the takeaway from this moment?
E: I hope people will develop a greater appreciation for one another. I hope we are all learning to take better care of ourselves and others. And I hope we take down the racist, sexist, fascist regime that has done this to us all.