And after a week of getting annoyed at photographs of large jubilant crowds elsewhere in the US, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from caring what other people do.
I mean, I do care, in the sense that we’re all interconnected. And I care in that I don’t want a second big wave of infection slamming hospitals and killing people. But I’ve also seen that caring deeply about what I have no hope of controlling is a path to despair. So I’m focused on what is in my control: Being personally cautious, loving my husband, and writing MOAR books. 🙂
Washington State continues to take the slow-and-careful path toward re-opening the economy. We’ve had about a thousand deaths since this started, which is sad, but also kind of amazing given that we started out as the epicenter of the US outbreak. But there’s also a growing sense of this-can’t-go-on-forever that I feel swirling around. P & I work from home, we don’t have kids, and we’re used to living in a small space with our own projects to keep us company. So it’s easy for someone in my shoes to say “Sure, let’s be super-cautious and take our time!” But not everyone’s situation is so cushy, and caution is an expensive luxury when you can’t afford not to go into work.
Amid the outrage about idiots chanting slogans and waving guns in the air, I think we forget that not everyone can work from home, and people need to eat and pay rent. I’m grateful for the small business loan program that has been putting people back to work, including my younger brother and the barista down the street.
Seattle is starting to thaw. While my county is still in Phase One of lockdown for a while longer, the environment is already starting to change. Our local coffee sh0ps are coming back online, one at a time, ending the great coffee clampdown of 2020. (Take-out only) King County had it’s first day without coronavirus deaths recently, a beautiful milestone, and I’m seeing a lot more people wearing masks, even outside. This morning we woke up to traffic noise, something that used to be normal, but which seems shockingly loud after months of near-silence outside.
In a way, this moment feels like the morning after a storm. You go outside and check for damage, counting broken windows and dangling power lines, wondering how much it’s going to cost to put everything back together again. Only the thing that’s broken isn’t a house or a neighborhood, it’s the entire economy. And without a vaccine ready there are likely to be more storms rolling in. Still, even knowing that, I’m relieved to discover tiny moments of reprieve. Like a brief chat with a barista while they pull a shot of espresso, or twenty minutes sitting in the grass in a park.
Give us a taste of that sweet, sweet, normalcy!
Still, my cautious nature tells me that this pandemic is about to get more dangerous, not less, as pent-up humans rush out into the world hungry for the experiences they’ve been missing. We’ve all seen those shocking videos of of packed beaches, busy casinos, and overflowing parking lots. Millions of workers will soon return to work out of financial necessity, and state governments, despite some valiant efforts, have struggled to procure as many testing supplies as they need. Unfortunately, our own federal government has been hostile when they should have been helpful. My state recently received a large shipment of Q-tips from the federal government instead of the promised testing swabs. In this climate, it’s difficult to interpret such a “mistake” as anything but an upraised middle finger coming directly from the White House, but after four years of Trump I’ve reached a point where such events are like being kicked in a sore spot already sore from too much kicking. It hurts, sure, but what can you do?
You keep on living.
My book sales are up, probably due to my marketing efforts, but possibly because folks are reading more. More broadly, I think we’re all still waiting to see what the economic fallout looks like. Seattle, with its high proportion of tech workers, may fare okay on average, but even here the consequences seems serious. Our local restaurant scene is pretty thrashed, tourism, always huge here in the summer, is non-existent, and I can’t imagine feeling safe getting on a plane or a crowded bus anytime soon. Like many people, we’re wondering when it will be safe enough to go and visit our parents. And when will it be safe enough to get together with a friend or two? Also, what does safe enough even mean? And if pent-up humans go crazy and start smearing their germs all over one another in an orgiastic late-summer hug-fest, should the rest of us still stay inside and wait for the second wave of infection to burn itself out?
I suppose we’ll figure things out, as we always do, one small decision at a time.
Take care, everyone, and keep washing those paws.