i am visiting a friend who lives in an assisted living facility. no visitors allowed in the building. no communal eating. food brought in boxes to each individual living behind closed doors.
My friend’s apartment is on the ground floor and she has a tiny screened in patio that is half hidden by bushes facing a small grass lawn and part of the long driveway entrance to the building.
She sits on her patio lawn chair safely screened away from me, and i bring my chair, planted in the grass, and we chat at what might be called “happy hour,” and drink the wine i brought for me, and the wine i left at the reception desk for her, social distancing in compliance with all regulations. We are both grateful that she is on the ground floor of this two story building, which facilitates our ability to have a warm intimate conversation.
After a while, a white Camry pulls to a stop, hugging the grass near us. A stunning dark haired pony tailed female millennial exits from the car, wearing short shorts and a sleeveless top, sporting a pair of Rockette legs. She stops in front of a series of screened-in apartments, pulls out her smartphone and lifts her head up to the second floor. “Granny! Granny! it’s Melissa right outside your patio,” I hear. Their view of each other must be misty through the second floor screen, but I hear a muffled voice from the apartment.
“How are you feeling, Granny?” Melissa shouts. Granny mumbles something . “Yes Yes” Melissa says,” I wanted to come to see you.”
Melissa does a slight dance on the grass as her head tilts to the sky. They engage in a very short conversation, which ends with Melissa’s clear words. “I love you. I love you!!” She waves vigorously and gets back in her car and drives away.
June 1, 2020
It was just one of those days. Covid Day 76 to be accurate. The world was in the gradual process of adjusting to the “new normal.” – a toe in the waters of “going back to our lives.”
Nothing much going on except a torrid insurgency overriding the pandemic. Cities from ocean to ocean and in all places between, were being torn up and lit up by thugs inspired by the legitimate pain of the other pandemic — centuries of racial inequality soothed into temporary quietude after each of the innumerable killings of unarmed black people by law enforcement personnel. This one looked like the steam had erupted. This one was different. This one was unyielding in its defiant response to endless lack of response.
But all of that was the outside world. My little inside world was highlighted on this Saturday by my visit to my friend Noni, locked up and imprisoned in her assisted living facility — on this, the 76th day of no communal dining, no resident interaction, no outside visitors — human contact limited to agency workers delivering food , or responding to the daily health requirements of the “inmates,” as referred to by my friend—- all necessary precautions in a world attacked by a little understood virus which was known specifically to be deadly for the population thus incarcerated.
Again, we managed to circumvent the “no visitors” rule when I unfolded my lawn chair under the tree, and she plopped into her chair for one of our long standing tête-à-têtes.
Noni and I talk about fun stuff. She only “complains” about herself – and all the “things” she “should” be doing — but doesn’t do. Even something as serious as that has become a joke between us. We are the best laughing partners.
And so, I mentioned to her that I had recently read that “NATIONAL ORGASM DAY”- was almost upon us – its exact date, as I have now been google-informed is July 31. If you knew Noni, you would understand that this propelled a long and intense conversation, the content of which is not really germane to this piece, although in its essence, there contained a considerable amount of nostalgia.
And suddenly, as if dropped by an unseen Peter Pan kind of rig, an apparition appeared in front of my eyes. Eventually, I understood it to mean that this young man had been walking on the deserted street and spotted a human person, and evidently had the need to communicate. A blonde-haired casually dressed, nice looking 37 year old, (as he announced later,) he very unthreateningly plopped himself on the grass, an appropriate 6 feet from my chair, turned to me, and said, “I’m Aiden. Can I bum a cig off you?” Almost jovially, he accepted my “No, I don’t smoke and neither should you,” with expectation. I could smell a hint of alcohol from 6 feet away, happy semi-drunk that he was. “This is a great place,” sweeping his arms to indicate the building, “my grandmother died here.— in 2015”, he added, after assuring us that she’d had a great “stay.”
Loquacious as his inebriated condition rendered him, he offered his life story in as much detail, as I, ever the interlocutor, would evoke from him. Noni remained an attentive audience to our blather.
He finally took off to wherever la la land was located, inviting us to the bar at City Fish Market where he claimed to be chief bartender.
In summation, Covid 76 – just another day in which the virus has its tentacles sucking at the heartbeat of a nation, — just another day when the heartbeat of the nation is double-attacked at its core by the smoldering of injustice, — just another day in my visiting life with Noni and a mindlessly inebriated lost soul –and — as it turned out – also, the day that a bunch of rich white guys climbed into Elon Musk’s Spacex ship and might have said to each other, “Let’s get outa here,”
Saturday July 4, 2020 — 110 th day of Covid —
I don’t feel like organizing my “death” files — as I should.
I don’t even feel like organizing my “in” basket — as I should;
I surely don’t feel like cleaning the drawers in my bathroom vanity– especially, the one where I saw the cockroach the other day.
And on this Fourth of July, I don’t feel like “funning” it up.
Son Chip came to visit this morning. He wore his mask and demanded that I wear one too. Just the two of us in the house together? Yes, he insisted. He brought two bagels with him, and we sat at the ends of the dining room table – with the niggardly remains of the cream cheese I had on hand, until it was clearly gone, at which time Chip declared that Philadelphia whipped cream cheese is far superior to mine, also whipped, from Public. I felt this might be something worth fighting for, and was prepared to make a contest out of it. However, I was thus left in abeyance pending further action, to be exact, the purchase of both brands, and a definitive taste-testing session.
The remainder of our visit, although of valued time spent, was somewhat of a mutual frustration, as we engaged in serial “what’s” – each of us with our own distinct audio deficiencies, and he, obsessively in compliance with the concept of mask-wearing, thus diluting the sounds.
I did, however, manage to catch up on his friend Pablo, the 25 year old Colombian immigrant, who finally got his citizenship papers and brought his wife, Lina, to live here, as she and others of his family members are currently seriously engaged in learning English. Oh, and yes – the whole family, I am told, his parents, sister, cousin and wife, and he and Lina – 7 people – left last night for Las Vegas to celebrate the holiday—a first visit for all. Some kind of “deal,” Chip conjectures. Ain’t life grande!
As I walked him out to his car, I noticed that flags has been placed in full sight, on all ten of the buildings of our immediate neighbors. They looked resplendent in their somber uniformity, and I must thank neighbor Eileen– it was such an Eileen thing to do —- for her thoughtful patriotism.
My friend Barbara, called from Stamford, Connecticut, and among other things, urged me to ask Alexa to play some marching band music today. Barbara is a celebrator of — -everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if she celebrates Groundhog Day. I should probably become more of a celebrator, myself. I will make a note of that.
And Billie called from Madison, Connecticut to let me know that she and Steve arrived safely by car, from their suffocating sunbelt home on Florida’s gulf coast, to their summer retreat in less humid climbs. Of course, my contention is: hot is hot regardless of where, but there she is, no longer within range of Alligator Alley.
I also spent a good bit of time on the phone with friend Marilyn who lives around the corner, and her anxiety ridden experience, after many hours, finally achieving success in getting the movie “Hamilton,” on her ipad for watching tonite. These are the kinds of traumas to which Covid 19, makes us especially susceptible.
And thank you dear friend Lucia for the surprise, hand delivered – and therefore some lightning-fast time-together, gift-boxed sugarless pastry from the newly discovered bake shop up the block from me. Such are the times that bring extra light into my covid moments, times that going to the mailbox and the dumpster don’t quite live up to.
I listened to some of my audible book, “How To Be An Anti-Racist.” There is still stuff to learn. I never had a close black friend and I’m thinking every white person needs one. I’m thinking of ways to make that happen.
I have no patience for television tonite. Well, actually, I am aware that I have no patience for television any night. I should probably go to sleep now. It is getting late-ish, and the fireworks are within hearing distance—small pellets of weak blasts that signal more to come. I don’t mind them. At least they seem to be indicating that life goes on.