Finally, the ominous clouds of anger and divisiveness are starting to fade, I told myself getting out of bed this morning. The United States will have a leader who sees citizens as human beings; not as his followers or his enemies.
Inside my head, Paul Simon’s song “Was a Sunny Day” was playing. The weather outside matched my mood.
While my preferred candidate for United States President, Joe Biden, did not win by a landslide; the race had been called and he’s won more than the needed number of electoral votes. Now we can focus on dealing with “the common enemy;” the novel coronavirus. Recently in Anne Arundel County Maryland where I live, we had the highest number of new reported infections yet—175 cases. Like many places around the globe, the United States is facing its third wave of infections, which is causing me to be evermore vigilant in choosing what activities I feel are safe. Most of my work and socializing is done virtually.
I think of all the science fiction movies I’ve watched, where the voyager in space interacts with family, colleagues, commanders, and foes on a computer screen. The stories where the space traveler has not seen people in the flesh for months or years. In some stories, the traveler becomes so desperate for human contact she spends hours watching old family movies and archived tapes.
My house is my spaceship. From the comfort of my living room, I interact with the world. The facetime, the zoom meetings, the social media posts all connect me with my fellow humans. They all provide band aids for the problem of living in a time of a global pandemic. But the craving for human touch doesn’t leave us. I am alone in my house with my dog. Do they allow pets on spaceships? I think of that Star Trek episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” The Starship Enterprise crew brings the cooing creatures aboard as pets and havoc ensues. Although they have each other to interact with, the Enterprise crew members crave other physical experiences. So much of what I do now is in the virtual world.
This weekend, however, the exceptionally warm weather and the leaves on the trees turning orange, red and yellow demanded in-person observation. We donned our masks, got in the car with our dog Chloe and drove down to Beverly Triton Nature Park in Edgewater to enjoy the woods and water—all in one place. Many people were there, also out enjoying the day, and the majority were wearing masks and practicing respectful social distancing.
It is so easy to let your guard down, particularly when you are in a good mood. And I pine for all those things I miss. Yes, I can still press my hands into the soil in my yard to plant a garden and walk around the neighborhood, greeting friends from a distance; but so much has been taken away. I think of the last time I went to the Spanish Ballroom in Glen Echo with my husband Peter to go ballroom dancing. The live music that featured saxophone, horns, piano, bass, and clarinet echoed through the hall, and when we grew tired of doing the rock step and fox trot, we stood and listened. Stood and watched some of the expert dancers with their sequences of steps, turns and twists. Admired the zoot suits and the crinoline skirts.
Some evenings we dance around the kitchen, listening to music played on our “smart speaker.” I consider searching on YouTube for a dance lesson so maybe we can practice some steps, but I’d have to roll up the rug to dance while watching the screen on my computer.
Thanksgiving 2018, we were flying to California, excited to meet our daughter’s fiancé (now husband). Alex and Josh showed us around Mountainview, California and we drove together over the mountains to Lake Tahoe. There we stayed in a snug A-Frame cottage, witnessed the first snow of the season and played “Cards Against Humanity.” Exploring on our own, Peter and I got on the train to visit San Francisco and walked the city, deciding to to eat lunch near Fisherman’s Wharf. We found a restaurant that looked like it had been transported from the 1960’s and we tried one of their specialties, tiny fried shrimp with fresh lettuces and heirloom tomatoes on a bun. Could I make this at home? Part of the fun of traveling and eating in restaurants, is tasting new preparations of favorite foods and being inspired to create reproduce some of those recipes.
How can I make this Thanksgiving satisfying, with only the two of us physically sitting around the table? I remind myself I am lucky to have a significant other, my husband, with whom to share this necessary partial separation from society.
One day, we will get through this pandemic. Until then, those of us who take the time to read the science and pay attention to the statistics, should continue to set a good example for others. We should continue to be vigilant and limit our in-person contacts when possible. Soon— in another 72 days— we will have new leaders. I am confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will set an example for others to follow and provide guidance and financial support to carry out safe practices. Until then, we are still on our own.