Just a thought… Don’t look back, you’re not going that way. [Author unknown]
Well, here it is: March. A time to look ahead. A lot of people are talking about one year ago, because it was in this month that we all began to hear about this coronavirus. Yeah, remember when jokes abounded with Corona beer and Lyme disease? Not funny then, and really not funny now.
We heard about what was happening in Asia and thought: Wow, that’s awful – those poor people. We’d been through SARS not even 20 years earlier; we could relate. And then, because we live in, as Marshall McLuhan so aptly put it, a “global village,” the disease spread faster than you could book a flight. And then it became alarmingly real. It hit home.
You’ll remember that for most kids, Friday, March 13th took on a different kind of meaning: it wasn’t just a day for superstitions, it was the last day of school for a very long time. For some, that was lucky, I suppose. But for most, not at all. A lot of kids missed out on a whole lot of experiences that they’ll never get a chance to relive, and it’s taken a toll on them, as this whole pandemic has on us all.
For Rob and me, that sinking feeling occurred earlier than the 13th, when we had friends visiting us in California who had gone to lunch with a pal who lived a few hours’ drive away. They heard that she had gotten tested for Covid and we were all awaiting word. Had they inadvertently brought the virus back to our house with them? Turns out they had not. But we were on alert, just the same.
With these same friends, we went out in a maskless crowd for the last time. And here’s where it gets kind of embarrassing. In an attempt to show them a fun night out after pal Charles’s birthday dinner, we had bought tickets to see a ventriloquist at a nearby casino resort.
Now, this guy, who had apparently won America’s Got Talent or something, had his name atop every cab in Las Vegas. I’d seen that name a million times but didn’t know how to say it. I thought he was Terry faTOR. Apparently, though, it rhymes with “tater” which is exactly what I thought of myself after seeing the show.
There’s no doubt he was a man of many voices, but some of his act was just…cringeworthy. The one part that sticks out most was his Michael Jackson puppet. Yes, complete with possible child abuse jokes and lots of other alleged humour that made me glance around and see who was laughing. Turns out, our foursome might have been some of the few who might be labelled “woke” when it comes to jokes about molestation. Who knew?
I held onto the ticket stubs for I don’t know how long and for reasons I haven’t figured out. My last link to the “before times,” it also marked our last time in a casino. And we didn’t even gamble, even though our tickets provided free points or something. We didn’t want to put Charles and Nancy through that.
It has made me think so often during these past 12 months of the things we didn’t do when we had a chance. We never made the trip from Palm Springs to LA; we never did that trip to the San Diego Zoo. Yes, we’d seen other parts of California before and we had always thought we’d have time for those side trips…next time. Next time.
Now, there isn’t going to be a next time.
The night that the one-term president took to the oval office desk and began to riff about the virus, about a travel ban and so on, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. March 10th it was, ’cause, boy, it made me “tenth” all right! I told Rob about the jumble of an address that I’d just seen and said, “I think we’d better book a flight home.” (Up to that point, we’d been free-wheeling and were going to decide at a later date when to return to Victoria International Airport).
It took us days to get a flight that would accommodate Molly – WestJet had a limit on the number of pets per flight – and we finally booked our tickets for March 17th. In that time, Rob had an exchange with an auto mechanic; the guy, who also ran a gun store (because, of course he did) said that they couldn’t keep up with the demand for ammunition. Whatever this was a sign of, it wasn’t good. And it added to that sick feeling.
We got out, we got home. And as you may know by now, we’re never going back to that house. If we’d known that, when we were packing up to come back, we’d have brought a lot more personal stuff with us – things that eventually had to be shipped to us back in Canada. But I had this feeling – I didn’t know if it would be destruction from riots or what – that when I closed that front door for the last time, I wouldn’t be returning.
Do I find myself California Dreamin’ these days? Of course I do. But the trade off has been being here in a house that’s visited by grandchildren now and is our one and only home base. Could we have imagined how this would all turn out? Well, let me remind you how, when some said that the lockdowns beginning in March “might last all summer,” we were filled with dread and disbelief.
We can wish all we want, but this is the reality until we all get vaccinated and our society begins to heal. We’ve gotten a pretty clear look at who we are: we banded together with telethons and evening pot clanging until we got sick of it. As we await our turns in line for the vaccine, we’ll do what we have to do. Plenty of people have it worse – in every way – than we do.
All we’re being asked to do is wait, stay distanced. We can do this. With this new month comes not just looking back at March of 2020, but looking ahead at March of 2021 – with the hope that accompanies spring. Baseball is back. Days are longer. And as in all things, we can do this.
Stay safe and stay smooth and I’ll be back with you Thursday.