Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Today a friend called me, then texted. I was away from my phone, chasing Sophie through the sun-lit grass while other moms chatted and supervised their less mobile children from a distance. When I came back I saw the text: "Go to the grocery store now. Utah just announced that there will be no gatherings of 100 people or more, starting next week. There's gonna be a panic." On my way to grab Sophie, I told the other moms. "Hope you've done your shopping for the week!" I smiled.
Then I lugged Sophie into the apartment and called my mom to tell her they would no longer need to care for Sophie while we went to Costa Rica. Georg had consulted with the health department at his company and they strongly discouraged him from traveling, adding the somewhat obscure observation that "we are five days behind Italy." It's not so much Costa Rica, they added. "But when things get worse in the US, they might not let you back in."
While chatting with my mom, I was scrolling through the local news. Every few minutes there was a new update: all buildings of worship in Utah will be closed, and all universities are transitioning to online classes. I was getting emails about cancelled events, posts from worried friends. When has a state or a country ever shut down so completely?
I have been suffering from the near-insanity of staying home all day in a suburb, dying to get to Costa Rica and having a week of freedom, a breath of fresh air to keep me from drowning. Now we will be staying home even on weekends, and my husband will be home with us, but inaccessible, working. All the news can talk about is this "new reality." Isolation has been my new reality for a long time, but now it is mingled with the awareness of being embedded in History with a capital "H," "the coronavirus of 2020." All I can say about this sounds trite: that we are in this together, that we need to exercise caution for the good of everyone. We drove past a nursing home yesterday, and tears welled briefly in my eyes. There are worse places to be quarantined than a cozy apartment. There are places filled with loneliness and fear.