Wednesday, April 22, 2020

This is us (quarantine edition)

Yesterday evening, Max and I took a walk outside, the first time we ventured to another block in six weeks. Even though nothing had changed, everything felt changed.

"Mask!" Max said before we left. He knew that it's a way to stay safe; our mayor has recommended masks for anyone walking around or going for a run. 

Arm in arm—there is a lot of uneven pavement and I try to make sure Max doesn't trip—we strolled.
Our neighborhood was weirdly quiet; not one car passed us by in the twenty minutes we were out. We saw a couple of people we didn't know headed toward us, and we crossed the street to stay far away. A jogger without a face mask crossed our paths, and I wondered if he was too close. Being fearful of human interaction: so new and strange.

Max was thrilled to be outside. "Leaves!" he said, happily, pointing to the trees. He can't stand winter and genuinely appreciated the signs of spring. We oohed and ahhed over the daffodils. We talked about there being more chipmunks than usual, or maybe we'd just never noticed them before. We walked by a house with a koi pond; the owner has a yellow VW bus he keeps out (he converted the garage to a tiki bar) but it was nowhere in sight, and I wondered where he and his girls had fled to.

My friend Kristen and her family were also out for a walk. I don't think I've ever been happier to say hello to neighbors, and it made made realize just how much I've missed talking with people in person. As much as I loved our neighbor Zoom cocktails last Friday night, nothing can replace real, live connections. I hadn't realized, either, how much I needed scenery beyond our backyard.

So, it felt good to be out with Max. And it felt unsettling, like we were in a scene in a horror movie with no ending. The movie in which a pandemic strikes the planet, sickens millions, kills more than 180,000 people and seems uncontainable.

I took some deep breaths and savored Max's happiness.

When we got back to the house, I asked if he wanted to hang out on the porch bench.

"No, it's cold!" he said.

And we went back inside.

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