Lately when someone asks how I am doing--Are you safe? Are you ok? Are you healthy?
My answer has been, Yes, I have no hardships: an it’s true: I love where we live, there are groceries in the fridge, the rent is paid and we’re healthy. And, being work self-employed artists, Bobby and I are both used to working at home.
The big challenge is when I have to go out in the world and yesterday was the day.
First I ordered sandwiches for lunch. I’ve been cooking a lot, which is great, but I do give myself an occasional break and order something to pick up.
The country market where I love to go has a great set up—call in your order, wait outside in your car until it’s your turn, only one shopper allowed in the store at a time. Everyone’s wearing masks and gloves, just like me.
After paying, walking back out to my car, two women appeared from around the corner, one of them looked at me in my mask and blue gloves and smirked then she looked at her friend? Did the other woman roll her eyes? They had no masks, no gloves.
A lot of city folks been coming upstate, perhaps thinking that, just by being here they’re practicing social distancing. For a moment I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
They then began walking to their respective cars. I did the math: they had come from their respective homes to meet, maybe they took a walk together with neither gloves nor masks. The word blithely came to mind, they blithely did these things.
Should I say something? These seemed to be my options: Hi, I was wondering if you two might be practicing social distancing? Or, I could say, what the hell is wrong with you people?
I said nothing, went home and enjoyed a delicious mozzarella sandwich with pesto.
A little while later I needed to have a prescription delivered.
I called CVS.
“Pharmacy,” the man answered, sounding gruff and mildly sedated.
“Hi,” I said. “I just have a question.” Just. As if a question is an inconsequential thing, as if every single thing in the world isn’t suddenly in question.
Turns out I had waited too long to have my medication delivered so I’d have to go pick it up. I knew from experience that, tragically, the CVS does not have a call ahead, one person in the story policy in place.
Suddenly the world outside loomed, with those scary things called humans walking around, each one like a ticking bomb no one can hear. Each one a potential assassin.
Lately I find myself thinking: “Man, when this is all over, I can’t wait to tell people what I’ve been through,” like when you go on a trip and you think, this is going to make a great story, because you’re having a unique experience then suddenly I remember: EVERYONE IS HAVING A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE. Everyone is on a no-expenses paid exotic trip to a land called Covid 19. And, I don’t know about you, but my trip isn’t very exotic at all, “well, the first day of the trip I stayed home.” “Yes, then what?” “Um, let’s see, second day of our trip, I stayed home.” It’s the longest, most expensive trip to nowhere ever!
The parking lot of the drugstore was packed. What are these people doing? I thought. My errand is of utmost importance but the rest of these people—IDIOTS.
It’s remarkable how quickly I can go from let it all hang out to government informant.
Inside the CVS I surveyed the other shoppers: “Hm, what’s wrong with her?” Then, “Seriously, dude, a bandanna wrapped around your face?” The guy ahead of me in line didn’t have gloves so I was grateful when he paid for cash because I didn’t want to have to deal with the debit card thingy with its stylus and punching the numbers if he had touched it.
I made a note that I should think about printing up some tickets to hand out to people I see not complying with the rules.
After that we went for our grocery run…trying to cut down on the number of trips into the world, right?
We pulled into another packed parking lot, Bobby attacked the back of the store, I took the front and we would meet in the check out line, which by the time I got there was twenty people long. Not bad, really, considering a friend in Brooklyn said she spent four hours getting groceries yesterday.
The reward to all of this being out in the world anxiety and excitement was to go for a walk at the preserve I’ve been going to lately. Wide open space, you can see if there are other people on the paths and you can change direction easily. It was a sparkling day, sunny with momentary sprays of light rain.
We want things to be fixed, don’t we? We want to know on which aisle the mayonnaise is located. We want to know that we won’t run out of our medication, that our neighbors aren’t a threat. We want to know. We want to know. We want to know.
And yet, who are we to expect consistency? Who are we to expect resolution? I don’t yet fully believe what I’m about to say—but isn’t it possible that it is our birthright to live in doubt, that it is a great opportunity to experience ambiguity? Could it even be a privilege to not know how things will turn out?