I have to go to Costco. Well, I don’t have to go, but I’m trying to do the shopping for my mom so she doesn’t have to go to the store and she needs some things that we typically get from there – butter, eggs, half and half. And there are some things I could use as well – also half and half, shredded cheese, more vodka.
Before I leave my house I spray a nasal saline solution into my nose. It’s supposed to help things I breathe in not stick to my nasal passage. Or so I’m told. I take Airborne to give my immune system an extra boost even though I already take Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Zinc to boost my immune system daily. I also rinse my mouth with Listerine since it’s supposed to kill germs. Maybe it will kill the germs that enter my mouth at Costco. (At the very least I won’t offend myself with the breath that I am breathing into my mask.) Because, yes. For the first time I leave my house with a mask.
It’s weird on your psyche seeing everyone wearing masks. And everyone in line at Costco is wearing some sort of mask. It makes me feel sad. In the line to get into the store I give a “can you believe this shit?” smile to the lady taking her place in line behind me, but she can’t see it. Hopefully she recognized the crinkle in my eyes. I see you. I’m smiling at you. We are in this together. And also, seriously. Can you believe this shit?
My mask is ill-fitting. The elastic isn’t quite tight enough. Not loose, but also, not quite right. But maybe I’m just not used to wearing a mask. I never want to have to be used to wearing a mask. But like the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.”
I stand in line a full five minutes before the line moves. I don’t even know if they have what I want. There is a sign at the front of the line posting what they have. What they don’t have. But I’m at the end of the line, so I can’t see it yet.
I see someone leave with toilet paper. That’s a good sign. I don’t need any yet, but know that I’ll probably buy it anyway. Not to hoard, but to have later for down the line. (Which I guess is the definition of hoarding.) Or maybe my mother or my brother or a neighbor will need it. I’d be happy to share.
Once the line does move, it moves fast. They let about 25 people in at a time. The line is wrapped around the building, but I don’t think I wait more than 10 minutes.
I walk past the clothing section and notice that it is completely empty. Not of clothes, but of people. The clothes are perfectly folded with not one person milling up and down the aisles. Impulse shopping for Jessica Simpson skinny jeans is not what anyone is here for. Spending more time than necessary inside, touching things you don’t need to touch, breathing things you don’t need to breath is a luxury nobody can afford.
I head straight to the back of the store for the toilet paper. It’s so stupid. Why are people hoarding it? Am I part of the problem? I actually calculated how long it takes us to go through a package of toilet paper and we have enough for about 10 weeks. And in 10 weeks, I’m hopeful that we will be able to leave our homes more freely. But maybe not. Maybe it will be worse. I’m splitting the package with my mother anyway.
They have everything my mom needs. I’m happy that they also have shredded cheese. Last time they were out. I stock up on alcohol – wine, beer vodka, tequila. Virtual happy hour supplies.
I split things up in the parking lot. Her half and half, my half and half, her butter, all my booze. I took some plastic bags at the rotisserie chicken station and split up the fruit – strawberries and cuties and limes.
When I get to her house she opens her garage door and I go through to her laundry room and drop off her groceries. I don’t walk past into her house to grab some mixed nuts from the bar or chocolate from the pantry. I stand in the garage and she stands back, but hands me a bag with some masks she made for me to mail to Chandler. I tell her the mask she made for me is a little loose. She goes to get another – an improved design. I try it on and it is better. We stand and talk for a few minutes in her garage, six feet plus apart. Both of us in masks. I think to myself, Can you believe this shit? But this time I don’t smile.
Today is day what of sheltering in place? Eight? Ten? I can google when Gavin Newsom made the shelter in place order for our state and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made the order for our county (same day), but that would surely take me down an internet rabbit hole and I’m trying to focus. Trying to write.
I know that on March 11th I went to a restaurant with my friend Marisa. She said she was so glad we went to dinner because it helped ease her anxiety. Ironically, that’s the night the shit really hit the fan – The NBA was cancelled, The Hankses announced they had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and the president held a press conference where he read from a script and yet still incorrectly stated no flights would be coming in from Europe after Friday the 13th. (Also, I know that Hankses sounds weird, but trust me Hankses is the plural of Hanks – not Hanks’. It’s grammatically correct.)
On March 12 I went to a popular bar for a going away happy hour for a coworker. (Are people who are a few ticks higher up than you on the corporate ladder, but whom you do not report to coworkers? I don’t know. Anyway.) As I was driving there it was pouring rain. I didn’t feel great about going. But I went anyway. I’m healthy. I’m good about washing my hands. I try to use a tissue or a sleeve every time I touch my face. But still. I was on two planes just eight days before. (And two planes nine days before. And a plane eleven days before. And two planes fourteen days before.) This was before the term social distancing was part of our everyday language. Before we were advised mandated to stand six feet apart. But I was still surprised that the restaurant was so crowded. But like I said. I was there too.
On Friday the 13th I went to Trader Joe’s at 11AM. I knew the president was going to issue a state of emergency at noon and I wanted to get to the market before he did that. Before they really were out of everything. I saw two women from my office there and my friend’s husband. They were already out of so many things. Pasta. Rice. Meat. Vegetarian protein. Potatoes. (And of course all paper and cleaning products.) Dog food. My favorite $9.00 bottle of Sauvingon Blanc. I bought some good cheese. And dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt. If we were going to be stuck in the house at least we could enjoy ourselves.
We don’t really eat fast food (In N’ Out doesn’t count!), but on Sunday, March 15th, Dave, Marley, and I walked to McDonalds for Shamrock Shake Oreo McFlurries. I wanted to bring the dog and walk and eat the McFlurries because I did not want to eat inside. Dave and Marley wanted to leave the dog home and eat inside. I brought Purell wipes and wiped down the table. Truth be told, it was too minty for me – I would have preferred my McFlurry un-shamrocked, but I ate the whole thing. The weather was cool – in the 60’s, but mostly sunny. It was a gorgeous day. There were a lot of people out walking. Families out taking a walk. I wondered aloud if there were more people than normal out for a walk at 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon. On Sunday night Newsom would shut it down – so there’s the answer to my question. It’s been a week as I write this. A week of shelter in place. I guess we were lucky – we went to a place we never go on the last day we could go there.
Because we had McFlurries so late in the day we weren’t that hungry for dinner so we just had some cheese, a bit of salami, and wine. (And an apple. You know. To be healthy.) Sheltering in place might make me fat.
I went to work on Monday even though I could have worked from home because I knew it would be my last day going in until all of this is over. I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. Dave works at the same company as I do, but he has a desktop and had to wait until Wednesday for a laptop so he could work at home as well.
In Nashville there is a bar called Winners that hosts a concert every Monday and Thursday night with different country artists called Whiskey Jam. Because the bar has closed for the coronavirus they’ve turned Whiskey Jam into a nightly virtual event (9:00PM CDT) on Instagram Live called Risky Jam. On Tuesday night I watched Mitchell Tenpenny, Meghan Patrick, Ryan Beaver, and Ernest perform and I was happy and my anxiety melted away for an hour.
Wednesday night I told Marley that I didn’t feel comfortable for her to hang out with her friends. Even if it was just at someone’s house. She was angry with me (understandably), but stayed home. What she didn’t know is that I had diagnosed myself with COVID-19 (with no symptoms) that day and I didn’t want her spreading it to her friends. Dave had oral surgery on Wednesday so I made soup for dinner. Matt Nathanson did an Instagram live concert and for an hour I was happy and forgot that my daughter hated me and the soup I made wasn’t my best and that I had coronavirus.
On Thursday morning I got up and took the dog for a run and knew that if I had coronavirus I could never do that. (I was cured!) Dave had a second oral surgery. It was our 26th wedding anniversary and instead of a nice steak and a good bottle of wine we had pasta and our favorite $11 everyday wine. Love in the time of coronavirus.
On Friday at 2:00 a few people on my team had a 40 minute virtual happy hour. I made myself a vodka and juice drink that wasn’t quite a martini, but I put it in a martini glass. It was pretty and tasty and pink. There were five of us on the video call and it made me happy and again I felt lucky that I work with really great people that I like and love so much. I barbecued hamburgers for dinner and Marley started speaking to me again. I watched Hardy and Devon Dawson and Lauren Alaina on the Instagram Live Risky Jam and my heart felt full with happiness and love and togetherness. I love that these house concerts are popping up to lift people’s spirits. They truly lift mine.
On Saturday we wanted to go for a hike, but when we got to the trail it was closed, so we went to the beach. The weather was beautiful. Perfect, actually. I thought I took a lot of pictures, but I took almost none. We walked on the walking path because we had our dog. It wasn’t crowded, but also it wasn’t dead. Again, I wondered if there were more people than usual on a cool March day since kids can’t play sports or go to birthday parties or go to the mall. It was nice to be in the fresh air. To be in nature. (Later I saw pictures on the news of Malibu and Huntington Beach being packed. We were at Zuma and it wasn’t like that. Nothing like that.)
At 4:30 I had a virtual happy hour with some of my best girlfriends. We haven’t all been together in over a year. Funny how being apart is the thing that brought us together. A couple hours in, the husbands joined the party. Dave and I had cheese and wine again for dinner. We’re going to meet again virtually next weekend and attempt to play Cards Against Humanity. We’ll see how that goes.
This morning I went for a run with my dog. He loves to run, but he’s not the best behaved dog and is a terrible running partner. We crossed paths with a woman with two dogs. I said hello as I was coming upon her and she ignored me. As we were running past her, my dog lunged at her dogs, crossing my path and causing me to trip over him. I yelled as I came tumbling down and she never looked back. Didn’t ask if I was okay. I’m going to assume it’s because she didn’t see me fall (and must have had earbuds in, so didn’t hear me yell) and not because she thought I was a coronavirus carrying zombie. I cleaned the house today. (My house is cleaner than it’s ever been and no one can come over to see it.) I baked banana bread. My writing group had a virtual creativity session at 2:00 where we all dedicated one hour to working on something – writing, editing, practicing yoga, etc. I’m being productive. I wrote this. It’s the first thing I’ve written in a long, long while.
The coronavirus is worse than terrible. Possibly the worst thing ever. And the worst is truly yet to come. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more than a little bit scared. And yet – the humanity has been so wonderful. (Well, other than the blind-ear-bud-wearing-corona-virus-zombie-fearing dog walking woman.) The Instagram Live concerts truly fill my music loving heart with joy. Virtual happy hours make me feel connected even when we are forced apart. And I wrote! (And my house is clean!) This is really hard. And is really terrible. But we will get through it. Together. Even when we have to remain apart.