The group of friends moved together on the pier, jostling and laughing, one boy hip-checking another, three girls giggling in a group hug … “Noooooo,” I find my brain screaming,”Separate! You can’t be that close to each other!”
Is my hometown another place where people are not following government restrictions on gathering? Well, yes, sort of, in a few places, but that scene described above is an example of what I’ve been yelling at people in movies and on the pages of the books I’m reading! Our new normal has become so firmly entrenched in my mind already that I am not even distinguishing real-life physical contact with fictional or virtual closeness. What will this do to our post-COVID lives and attitudes, I have to wonder?
Silly reactions and philosophizing aside, we are here in Houston being rule-followers, like many of my blogging friends from all over the world. We canceled our trip to Southeast Asia in February for fear we might get stranded there, and now we are looking at those destinations as perhaps safer places to be right now than in our own individual-liberty-obsessed land (1).
My beloved running routes along the bayous are now packed with stir-crazy people wanting to get out of the house. Most are well-behaved, sticking to their side of the paths and maintaining appropriate physical distances. Some are still way too bunched-up with groups of friends, and a few infuriating idiots are passing balls and tackling each other, climbing over the closed dog-park fence, or taking turns pressing their grubby fingers down on the water fountain spigot. As of today, I will be running in the streets; they are emptier anyway, and I am less likely to work myself up over the rule-breakers.
Here in my house, my husband is working non-stop from an upper floor, trying to keep his company and its customers solvent. We are lucky to have his continued salary and the ability to buy some extra food and leave a few generous tips when we get takeout meals. My own paltry pay (barely worthwhile in normal times) has stopped as I cannot do much work for my employer from home. Last week I was a whirlwind, cleaning and baking and organizing, and now I’m feeling like a lazy slob.
Yesterday, we escaped with an outing a few hours west to see the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes that sprout each spring on the roadsides of Texas. The giant freeways were empty on our way out of the city, the shopping centers and car dealerships eerily deserted. Being in the country was therapeutic and temporarily calming, but now we are back in the house, J very stressed and I at loose ends.
I’m aware that this is the worst post I’ve ever written – disjointed, incohesive, and just plain boring – but like others, I wanted to connect in some way with the wider world (2). Please stay safe and healthy and sane as we all work together to stop this virus.
(1) It bears noting that I greatly value the individual freedoms our country affords us, and I am very lucky to have been born here. But I also value science, common sense, community spirit, and public health, so sometimes those personal rights need to be subjugated for the common good, and I think there are people and places that are understanding that better than we are right now.
(2) I need you, readers! My three kids have about had it with my incessant texts and emails, jokes and cartoons! 🙂