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Weary Pilgrim – Coronavirus Vol. III

It’s not really endless – it just seems that way. The simple truth is, we basically had it made, and didn’t realize it. I’m pretty sure folks throughout Europe in the late 30’s felt the same way once the war swept their daily lives aside…..

Most of us are not living in small studio apartments in Manhattan. Most of us are not now without a job, waiting on a relief check or whatever you call a check from the federal government that is being held up for a few days so the President can put his name on it for all the world to admire. Most of us are, in fact, still lucky, even though it’s hard to see that when we miss those meals out, or miss seeing our friends’ faces across the table at the Driftwood. Or we miss a simple handshake.

That’s what I miss – the handshake. I heard a doctor on the radio suggest that perhaps this would signal the end of the handshake, as it’s basically a delivery method for microbes. I’m not saying he’s wrong……but I want to shake hands anyway.

And there is the crux of the problem: when do we have the right to endanger ourselves? And if there is the slightest chance that endangering ourselves will endanger others, when can the ‘state’ stop us? I hate it that Trump is encouraging people to protest against state-imposed restrictions, when we are in the mist of this horrible crisis. Lashing out, and encouraging division is so very natural to this man. Blaming the WHO was so simple ( and to be sure, they made mistakes) – but right now they are what the world needs – kicking them when they are down serves no purpose other than diverting attention.

It’s easy to demand a return to our wonderful past – but gambling with money is one thing. Gambling with the lives of those we love is another very different animal. As far as I can tell, the governors of this country are doing an incredible job, resisting the easy call to rejoin the past, and holding the line in hopes of not overwhelming the medical system.

This has become a world where we Want What WE Had: I want to visit my friends in Vermont, I want to play golf. I want to go to Maddie’s. I want, I want, etc………it’s really hard not to set a new World’s Whiner Record when you get going.

But we live in Marblehead – which means we are in a Walker’s Paradise. As the weather has started to break, I’m testing the Activity App on my apple watch. I suspect I ordered the Flattery option, because according to it, I am walking about 250 miles a day, I’ve lost a ton of weight, I’m strikingly handsome, and all my children are going to Harvard. Wait a minute, that’s the Fantasy App. Trust me, get that one first.

But walking with friends is keeping me sane. I have a collection of Bandido masks that if I do say, make me rakishly handsome. Possibly this is because I can’t see my face, but you take progress where you can find it.

Back in February, because I am certifiably paranoid, I ordered N95 masks – about two weeks before that became a taboo move. I told my friends that I did it for three reasons: first, if you got sick, you had to wear one; second, you can give them to your friends – which I did; and third, I envisioned a time in the midst of the pandemic when we would have to wear them in public places. What I didn’t envision was a society that couldn’t supply its health workers with enough N95 masks, so now they are a sign not of caution or concern, but rather disdain, or contempt for the rest of society. So now I’m contributing them to a couple of health clinics. Keeping only a couple in case I get sick.

Which I keep not getting. Remember when you were a kid, and little Johnny next door got the chicken pox, and your Mom marched you over to his house to sit by his bed and try and make conversation long enough to get sick yourself? If this sounds like a bad chapter in a Stephen King novel, trust me – it happened. All the time. And now it’s SO tempting to roll the dice, and get the virus somehow, so that you can recover and rejoin the world.

Except….One, no way to know if you are immune after that. Two, without real testing, no way to know if you had it. Three, what do you do then anyway? I’m pretty sure there will be a name for those who Had IT. If you are a ‘Hadit’, how do others know? If you are a NotHadit, who would know? This is going to get confusing. Imagine a world where the Hadit’s all go to restaurants while the NotHadit’s gather outside, peering in. Talk about Have’s and Have Not’s!

There is, however, much to admire in this: I had a great chat with a worker at Crosby’s…as with many other stores, they worried about their employees, and the workers there are very proud of what they are doing. That’s a fascinating change: so many of the folks around us we took for granted are to be admired for keeping us going in this – at some risk to their own safety. I’m talking about the folks at Crosby’s. I’m talking about everyone working in every store that is open. I’m talking about those folks working for the town. And of course, those folks in the health care business. Talk about Front Line. We will not forget this. Ever.

We will talk about BC – Before Corona. And someday, when we are truly AC – after Corona- we will remember those we lost. And those whose courage and simple work ethic made all the difference.


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