In Which I Leave Town For the First/Only Time In Pandemic 2020
2020-08-15, 7:16 p.m.
Well, this was officially my biggest "adventure" (I say this extremely dripping in snark) since the pandemic started. I got up early, got dressed in my pandemic outdoor crappywear, put on my new tie-dye mask* took out the trash and dealt with the mail....and then drove back to my hometown for my eye doctor appointment. I was out of the apartment for about six hours, which is the longest since it happened.
* Which is now my favorite of all the masks. It really fits the best AND has one tie that threads through the bottom and then winds around the ears, so it's tight enough but not too tight at the back of the head.
I don't know what to make of the world when I'm out in it, on the rare times when I am out in it these days. I was relieved that I still remembered how to drive on the freeway for an hour and a half, at least. Outside looked...mostly normal. I drove through the downtown area, which I haven't been to since it started, and it about looked the same except for one street that was blocked off for outside use.* I saw some folks with masks on the street, but this town never had too many people bustling around at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday anyway. Driving on the freeway was the same level of traffic. There are more billboards asking you to wear a mask, the highway signs have gone from "Click it or ticket" (or whatever) to "Cover your nose and mouth, slow the spread." Oh, and when I drove over the bridge the pay area had a sign saying not to stop, no cash, bills will be sent in the mail. That was the biggest change.
* My mom's comment on this happening in the olde hometowne: "We were doing that here and then too many people showed up and started taking off their masks around 9 p.m., so they shut it down."
I can't for the life of me figure out how to relate to the world. Driving is normal enough and I couldn't figure out if I should relax or keep remembering that everything has cooties. My hometown looked normal enough, same amount of traffic, people parked in parking lots.
I got to the appointment in time. Everyone had masks on, they kept people apart in the waiting room. I was kind of unnerved watching one lady having a friendly conversation with her client in the glasses-fitting area (too close! talking!), but oh well. Mom called to ask if I wanted to go to lunch and I said "Absolutely not." "No?" "No. I don't want to have to take my mask off or have to go to the bathroom." I should say that it's 109 out today and I didn't drink a lick of water while out. The first lady who runs you through the machines asked how I was and I said "terrified" and uh, yes, I am one of those people who doesn't leave the house. "Well, thank you for trusting us." "I dunno, but I'm here...." They had a power outage last night and had to set everything up in the morning. Later Mom said that she got a call from them about this in the morning and "why don't they have your phone number?" They do, I said, I got automated calls and texts from them about this....just not this morning. So I guess even if I hadn't admitted to my mom I had this appointment, the jig would have been up. Anyway: they didn't make me get new glasses, they didn't make me do extra exams, everything went as well as it could have possibly gone. WHEW.
Then I went to Mom's, which was...about as weird as I figured it would be.
On the good news side:
(a) She gave me a bunch of stuff--a portable cooler, a SAD light, some pre-packaged food and orange Coke sodas (yay, been craving that and I just ran out at home), and I guess some clothes? I haven't looked in there yet. I gave her Jackie's gifts. She also gave me a birthday money check for the laptop for half of it and my tax refund, which was....wowza, good job, me. Adding it to the savings account.
(b) She washed my car because she of course noticed I couldn't get it washed 2 weeks ago. Which was really nice.
(c) We managed to have a conversation for an hour despite the awkwardness of having to remain outside in the driveway/door area in what was 90+ degree weather.
(d) She did put on and generally keep a mask on, though she did break out her Disney face masks (Pooh Bear set, if you're wondering) to show them off. I had just gotten mine in the mail, plus the last one I ordered off Etsy, so I opened them in front of her. I haven't tried my Disney ones on but they do look like they have issues getting on over the ears from watching Mom's. I doubt I'll use them much (I washed them when I got home so I haven't tried them out yet) but let's face it, I got them for cute more than practicality back in the day and I didn't know enough about mask buying then.
On the bad news side:
(a) I did have to turn down multiple requests for going out to lunch (OH I GODDAMNED WISH WE COULD, I DROVE BY FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS AND REALLY WANTED TO GO GET JACK IN THE BOX EGG ROLLS SO BAD. OR JUST ANY FOOD I DIDN'T MAKE) and multiple requests for hugs and I kept having to say over and over again to keep distance (which did not happen so well during say, the car washing when she's all "go hold the hose!") and....well, I wasn't expecting the lunch inviting but otherwise that is what I figured would happen.
It's just inhuman to have to treat everyone else like we all have the damn cooties. I had my face shield on as well, which was possibly overkill, but as I kept saying to her, I was literally just around more people than I have been around in months, I'm now at risk.
I don't want another parent to die on a ventilator....which led to a fun conversation in which I said "don't hang on to me, let me die if it's that bad" and her saying that she did hang on to Dad too long, and at some point she said do not resuscitate but they did anyway.
(b) I cried. I didn't totally snot up the mask or end up touching my face, but I cried several times. I knew that was going to happen. Greaaaat.
(c) She took some photos of me in the mask and face shield and I was not "smizing." I was about to cry in all of them. She said I looked good and I was all "I gave up on shaving, this is my crappy outdoor outfit and I have three inches of roots." She still says it looks pretty good, go figure. Well, hopefully the crying eyes can't be seen under the glasses and the face shield. She thinks she's getting fat and I was all, how can you tell? Can you button your pants? Yes. Then you're fine!
Mostly we just talked about random shit--the aforementioned forbidding of eating in the street, how they are going to start fining people by hundred to hundreds of dollars for being caught without a mask (good job, hometown), does she have any idea what Evan and Roger are going to do. She said no, other than Evan was going to spend the night. I asked if they were going to quarantine for two weeks afterward and she said no, Roger was going to try to shoo Evan out the door ASAP in the morning ("and he hasn't seen his son since January!") and then come to get her. I said that under normal circumstances I would think that was really cute. I'm so happy they are happy together after their bad marriages. Not that she's said a lot about Roger's, but, y'know, things can go bad after awhile, I guess.
I'm not sure how I feel about the experience. She's happy about it, at least. I can say that at least I saw her once in 2020. I said something like I feel so bad that we can't go out to eat or hug or anything and she said sometime in the future we will. God, I hope.
After that I drove on home and it was 109 and there was some traffic slog, like usual. I went out to get the free News and Review paper and get gas and then went home again for the duration. Then I had to do an immediate Silkwood shower before watching the storytelling guild show. I am relieved I wasn't doing it this time since not only was I late, I had to have camera off because I was in my bathrobe. I had to go do the scouring of the Shire cleaning routine after the meeting was over.
Signs I saw while on the road: heart stickers on cars, billboards, a romantic Starbucks window, rings on the ground, and spotting a car that looked like his. Nothing super memorable, but recurring now that I was out more.
I didn't write down most of the stories told, but I did write down what was most memorable to me: Gloria talking about wanting to get a dog at the market but she didn't want the Dalmatian there--no offense meant to Dalmatians, but she grew up freckled and didn't want a spotted dog. She rejected getting this dog--named Arrow--but went home and wrote out a list of what she wanted in a dog. Now, I have certainly heard of making The List for what you want in a romantic partner, but for a dog?!? That's new. Anyway, the dog is STILL around and Gloria is starting to get the hint. So she says to God, if this is the dog for me, I want to see the word arrow in the next chapter of the Bible I'm reading. (Isaiah 37.33). Sure 'nuff, "shoot one arrow" comes up....she caves in and gets him, he's housetrained and polite and been there for 13 years now. Awwwww!
Kind of reminds me of the story of how Meg got her dog Xochi, dreaming of a black dog.
Tonight I watched the Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival, which promised deaf people and dance, so sign me UP. They had a lot of technical difficulties and started a half hour late, we were told at one point that "The waiting is happening because that is what it takes to create SOUL FOOD and not microwave dinner!" It went till nearly 9 and was a long show. But it had ASL translators, a Spanish translator, "International ASL" translators (International ASL? Is this Esperanto for ASL? I need to ask Kelly), so I guess that's where the technical stuff came in. There were a lot of great dances--some people were deaf, some I assume may not be or at least it wasn't spelled out. They had all kinds of dances from all over the world. There was one guy who had three different versions of himself dancing--on the beach, ice skating, and in his walk-in closet. There was a lovely song called "Bleed the Same" by Mandisa that was a great song for this day and age. So, that was long but cool.
Mom just called to tell me this whole "Evan just went off to dinner with a friend and then Roger was going to go to beer with someone and then Roger wanted to do dinner with me" sort of thing. I wanted to be all IS ANYONE AVOIDING GOING INTO RESTAURANTS OR BEING DISTANT OR ANYTHING??????.... but what can I do.