The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 245,658 US cases and 6,058 deaths as of 10:45 am on April 3, 2020.
I was on my way to Oakland to receive Amanda’s love. I figured if guns, alcohol, and marajuana outlets were essential, a ride fifty-one mile ride just as was essential to get fresh and dried healing herbs in Oakland, deep dish pizza in Alameda, there is none in Rio Visa, and drive through Peet’s Coffee, for the return ride, the only drive through Peet’s I know about in the East Bay. I also wanted to go to Tartine’s, in Berkeley, for bread and poppy seed tea cake, but they had closed a few days earlier. And, if my bladder held up, I figures to see my girlfriend, Gloria. Call her. Tell her I’m driving by. Stop and wave from afar.
My partner does this thing with her eye brows when she is giving me serious warning with no wiggle room. She can make just one of eye brows go up, while she looks steely eyed at me. “Those are just excuses,” she said. “I worry about you going breaking the stay at home order.” She doesnt say, ‘ Don’t come back home with a killer virus.’ But, that is what she is communicationg.
I had a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizer wipes. As I approached the intersection Highway 12 and Highway 160, I saw that the produce stand was finally after the winter closing. The first produce had just been harvested from the acres of farmland just behind the produce stand. I put on my mask and gloves, shopped with more than six feet of space between the few customers, and made my purchases; a half flat of strawberries, and a quarter flat of strawberries for Amanda, and just picked and washed beets, green onions, cilantro and lettuces I accepted my purchases from the gloved proprietor and I was on my way.
I have other gifts for Amanda neatly packed in the car. Fresh cooked blackeye peas and small green lima beans, rice and vegetarian savory bread pudding. I made the savory bread pudding with croissants and vegetables that I roasted myself; onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, dried herbs, salt, pepper, eggs, almond milk and avocado oil.
I arrived. I brought my gifts to the bottom of her walk way. She brought her gifts down and placed them in the trunk of my car. We stayed in excess of an 6 feet apart as we talked and loved each other. We discussed safe handling of food, food packaging, newspapers, mail, delivered boxes and the things that arrive in them. We talked about the best uses to vinegar and bleach to clean and disinfect surfaces.
Amanda explained what she has included in her gifts: Herbs from her garden she had dried and placed in separate small brown bags; basil, mixed lemon balm and mint, and mullein for the lungs. She had placed fresh herbs from her garden in a basket; thyme, parsley, rosemary, fennel, mint and oregano. In addition, she added oranges and a lime from her nieces’ garden. She returned to her front garden and cut some blooming freesias which filled the car with the scent of spring.
We talked about support for her niece who is a nurse who recently self-quarantined in her home and her need for PPE’s when she hopes she can return to work. We said our goodbyes with lavish air kisses and prayerful leave taking.
I had arranged for an emergency bathroom use plan with Natalie’s in Alameda. I’m of an age that my bladder is my boss. With so many places closed, there are very few safe and clean bathrooms available for a bio-stop. I’m only able to go as far as I am amble to return home before my bladder clock sounds a full non–stop blaring body alarm.
I entered her basement with gloves and mask. She left disinfectant wipes so I could clean everything any part of my body touched thoroughly. I stood in her driveway near her side porch. She stood inside her doorway. I sang Happy Birthday to her wife, Akila, whose birthday it was, and placed two baskets of strawberries on their porch as a gift. We waved and swept kisses toward each other before I turned to go. I didn’t drive by Gloria’s. I miss her. I’m sad I don’t get to see her, hear her voice other than over the phone.
I was halfway home when my daughter, Leslie, called. She could tell I was driving, that I was not on lock down at home. She wasnot pleased. I confessed. Shewas still not pleased, but I can tell she was impressed with the measures I have taken to care for myself and those I came in contact with. We talk of the possibility of layoffs or furloughs that may be in the near future for her. I praise her assertive and proactive fown lexicon of family, friends, work, and memories We laughed and laughed, and love passed between us, mother and daughter of forty-four years. We shared the musical losses of Ellis Marsalis and Bill Withers. I promised to stay home for the duration.
Leslie voice accompanied me all the way home. When I arrived home, I hung up feeling humbled, grateful, privileged and relatively safe as the super-virus, Covid-19, begins to make landfall and hopeless– wretched– pitiable loss and grief begins to tumble and slam into us, crash over us, swallows us whole, and covers us in fathoms of grief and loss.
Once inside, I washed my hands and face. I took care of removing the packaging of my gifts. Quarantined the packaging for 24 hours and three says. I took my clothes off, placed them in the washing machine. I washed my hands and face again. I didn’t shower or wash my hair again, because of, I tell myself, the minimal contact I had with others and surfaces. I know it as a lazy cop out, a refusal to make something an essential habit. I tell myself, I will do better.
I count my blessings and go down my to-do list of selfcare: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home, except for the pharmacy & the grocery & then only with mask and gloves & when there a very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear and rage into expression, action and art.
Lizz Write is in concert on SF Jazz’s Friday’s at Five this week.
Make a cocktail date with your beloved ones and enjoy!
Joann and I eat deep dish pizza from Star on the Park in Alameda.
I continue to chronicle these times.
© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA