We narrowly escaped New York just in time. Initially, it was just going to be me, riding solo, down to my parents house in Florida. Working remotely for my marketing director, and with comedy suspended for what is going to be a long time, it seemed like the best call. Like many, I’m taking a financial hit that will be hard to recover from. At least in Florida, I wouldn’t be all alone in a studio apartment, I’d have good company, sunshine, and proper meals.
Had my folks been immune compromised, I would have not come this way. But they are in their early 60s and quite healthy. Former athletes, they exercise daily and eat healthy. My Dad, who is 63 today as I write this, has hammered home for many years about maintaining your health and how important it is. It is my hope post COVID-19 that many people will eat healthier, quit smoking and exercise more, keeping their meat vessel in the best possible condition to prevent themselves from potential suffering.
Then, my sister made a quick decision that she wanted to come and bring the kids (Anthony–5, Charlotte–2). We parted a few days before my original plan, taking off in the evening and driving through the night. There aren’t many benefits of being an insomniac, it’s an insidious condition, but driving through the night is one of them.
The kids slept most of the time, and were actually very well behaved in their waking hours. Charlotte got fussy in the last hour, but calmed when I massaged her feet. So I spent the last hour of an 18 hour drive, on 1.5 hours of sleep, massaging a two year olds feet.
Anthony has a pretty firm grasp on the situation for a small child. At some rest stops, we opted for peeing in cups in the parking lot to avoid going in any rest stops. At first my sister didn’t care for this idea. “What if a trucker sees you?” “I’d rather a trucker get a glimpse of my vagina than coronavirus.”
In the one time I had to take Anthony in a rest stop, I warned, “stay close to me. DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. We are going to go to the bathroom, wash our hands and leave. Okay? We cannot touch anything.” “Because of the sickness?” “Yes, because of the sickness.” “I’m not going to get the sickness.”
We made it to my folks in record time without traffic. My parents, being the thoughtful and good hearted folks they are, bought the kids a blow up pool and a blow up axe throwing/dart game. Here, we could quarantine but also go outside. Anthony said, “can we stay here forever?” “Careful what you wish for, bud.”
One of my nephew’s catch phrases is, “are you kidding me?!” He gets this from my sister, Lisa, who I’ve realized, says it all the time in frustration. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” It’s her way of saying, “fucking hell,” which is my prefered catchphrase. In fact, if we were a hit sitcom, the internet would compile a montage of Lisa saying, “are you kidding me.”
“Are you kidding me,” is the proper response to Netflix’s hit documentary, “Tiger King.” Yes, it’s as good as the hype. It will make you question reality. Anthony took to acting like a tiger, pawing at me for hours. But then at the end of the day, he oh so sweetly snuggled up next to me, purring, which is the weird part, cuddling like a tiger cub to an alpha female.
After a week of being here, I’m confident we didn’t carry corona with us from New York. Watching the news as cases rise in New York, the trip to Florida not only proved a great idea, but we would probably be here longer than anticipated, which we knew was a good possibility when we left.
“Who would’ve predicted something like this?” Dad says, watching the news.
“I did. Like fifteen years ago.”
“No! I didn’t predict a year, I’m not an insane person. I predicted a flu pandemic that would shift the entire world.”
This is true. And I’m not bragging. I wish my predictions didn’t come to fruition. Especially this one. I’ve lived my life as a hypochondriac which only accelerated when I worked in a nursing home.
It feels petty to complain about staying home when healthcare workers are in overdrive, risking themselves and their families of exposure to the virus. This collectively sucks.
The kids have been mostly enjoying themselves. Charlotte throws one fit everyday which rings through the house like a siren. She is two, however, so it’s to be expected. My family has always been a board game playing family, we pass the time in ways that aren’t wasted– bonding with each other. It’s like an extended vacation for the kids. They’ve come to love washing their hands frequently and I think we’re giving them an OCD complex, but that seems smart at this point.
The hardest I’ve laughed in sometime was because of my nephew. We were watching “Mowgli,” a Netflix movie which is a different take on “The Jungle Book.” I put it on for Anthony, but us adults were quickly captivated by it. I recommend it highly.
When one of the wolves died in the movie, Anthony asked, “is he gonna come back?”
“Mom, is Dino coming back?” Dino was their dog who died last year.
“No, sweetie. Dino is in Heaven now.”
There was a collective moment of silence and we all felt some sorrow for a boy who lost his dog.
“Do you miss Dino, Anthony?” My Mom asks.
After a brief pause and perfect timing he goes, “not really.”
Anthony was a little perplexed as to why that was hilarious, as we belly laughed, I was in hysterics.
Things will shift after this. In some ways for the better. It has always been my biggest gripe about how dirty my favorite city is. This is a wake up call. Bringing manufacturing back the states would be another positive. But there will be scams. Politicians on both sides will use this to push their agendas rather than focus on the greater good. As for artists and live performers, it’s hard to say when people will actually feel comfortable to sit in a crowded room, laughing on one another. It feels vain to fret over that at the moment when it seems likely we’ll probably see a half a million people die from this globally.
It’s in desperate times when people get a glimpse of their true selves. I’ve been broke, defeated and down before. You will either embrace facets of yourself that are not so pretty, or pretend they don’t exist. We will learn who our true allies are and false friendships will fall by the wayside. However, this is not the end of the world. We will get through this and we will get through it together. This, I am certain.
I have no advice you haven’t heard already. No prayers or special words to make you feel safe. All I can say is, death is usually worse for the living, tomorrow seems far away but the future is still in tact, and Carol definitely killed her husband.