To begin, today is the fourth anniversary of the lunch that changed my entire life. Five days after she reached out to me on the online dating site OKCupid — one of which I spent telling her all the reasons she DID NOT want to get involved with me — I met my future wife in a small, charming restaurant. The day was cloudy with scattered rain. I arrived first. As I watched her arrive, my heart leaped. I was smitten.
We were led to our table and sat down. We looked at each other and each laughed a nervous laugh. I started to speak. I stopped. I tried again. I stopped. I. Could. Not. Complete. A. Single Sentence. Finally, she asked to touch my arm. I leaned over to kiss her. Neither of us could speak for a couple of minutes. I was fighting tears.
Somehow, we managed to get through ordering and move to conversation. Afterwards, I walked her to her car, and we kissed again. [CENSORED] We agreed to see each other the next night.
I had learned ahead of time she was a singer. But she’d asked me not to search for examples and listen to her voice before we met. I agreed. She had never done this before. But it was deeply wise. I took home the two CDs she gave me. I put one on and sat down to listen. Within 30 seconds, I was sobbing. Because I was hearing the voice of an angel. Had I listened to her sing ahead of time, I would have projected a Grande Diva persona (as my father-in-law calls his daughter) based on what I heard. Instead, I heard her voice in the context of the real human being I’d met only a couple of hours earlier.
We were inseparable almost from the start. I ended my evolving romantic and casual sexual relationships and we became exclusive. In August we went on a month-long European trip and proved we were compatible travel companions, essential given her lifestyle.
A year later, we were back in the same restaurant. I dropped to one knee and began to speak. She asked me what I was doing down there on the floor. I said I THOUGHT I was proposing! In truth it was too soon, in part because I needed to make sure my sons were onboard. We were engaged in July, moved to Santa Cruz into a house with her extended family in September, and got married a year and a half ago.
So, we have a lot to celebrate today. And we have been doing so in appropriate style…
We received an “Emergency Alert” this afternoon, informing us the Santa Cruz County Health Department has ordered beaches and parks throughout the county closed for one week, through the April 15. Here’s a note from a county employee posted on the Next Door app.
“First, Santa Cruz County has one of the lowest growth curves for COVID-19 cases in the state, which itself has one of the lowest growth curves in the U.S. We’re beating this thing. You’re doing it. We’re all doing it. Congratulations, and let’s keep up the good work.
“We cannot, however, let down our guard. The shelter-in-place order allows travel only for essential purposes. (If you have questions, see our FAQ)
“Unfortunately, too many of us were visiting the beach for leisure rather than recreation, and often in groups. You’ve probably seen the pictures. And with a big holiday weekend coming up, we need to press pause and get everyone’s attention, so that we do not give up that gains we’ve made together.
“As Santa Cruzans, we have a special relationship to outdoor spaces. We are very aware of that, and we did not take this action lightly. The pause is only temporary. Eventually, life will return to normal. We want that to happen as soon as possible, and to achieve that we have to be aggressive now…
Hang in there. You got this. Stay strong. Stay together. (Just do it at least six feet apart from one another.)”
I’m really proud of how my county and state are responding. There are, of course, those pushing back on this relatively minor restriction. For my response, see Your Freedom to Be Reckless Ends When Tt Can Kill Me
Observations Around Town
What follows now are some observations of the surreal experience of leaving our two rooms for the first time in a month other than two trips to the hospital.
- Preparing for battle — Protected by long pants and long sleeves, disposable gloves, hat and mask, I felt like I was girding for a Zombie encounter.
- My eyes hurt — Even though it was an overcast day, the sky was too bright for eyes that had been indoors for so long. I had to put on my sunglasses.
- On the road — I’ve apparently been visualizing completely desolate roads even though I’d been on them twice. Certainly, there wasn’t typical traffic — more like a light weekend. Most of the cars seemed to be single drivers headed in the direction of business districts. I did see county workers putting up barriers into the local park when I passed it today.
- Social distancing — From what I witnessed on two trips, people were being conscious. It’s clear which people are partnered or otherwise connected because they’re the only ones I’ve seen close together. Everyone else I witnessed was standing apart.
- Parking distancing — Most people seem to be leaving a space between cars. I know I did. And people avoided each other in the parking lot.
- My pharmacy — The reason I went out yesterday was to pick up necessary prescriptions from my “Neighborhood Pharmacy” which is where I’ve always frequented for medications. There was a sign on the front door: “Call before coming in you if you have active symptoms...” The sign was also posted immediately upon entering. On the floor were masking tape lines every six feet from the door to the counter. The place was empty when I arrived. One other customer joined me, and another arrived as I was leaving. Yet it took them a while to wait on me. While waiting I had time to watch eight people (everyone they employ, I believe) plus the pharmacist working harder than I’d seen anyone behind the counter ever work before, going full out to fill call-ins and deliveries. Those who dealt with customers were wearing masks. Just one example of how people in “essential businesses” are rising to the occasion serving the rest of us.
- The other pharmacy — Today I stopped to pick up a prescription for my niece, along with a couple of other items. Unlike mine, this is a national chain. They had similar signage. The biggest thing I noticed is that the company has installed plexiglass panels between store staff and customers. They were also wearing masks and gloves. Good sign.
- The joy of apps — While I was out today, I also ordered and picked up coffee beans from Peets for the house, along with a latte. I was able to do this entire transaction without getting close to a human, though I did shout thank you. I felt bad I didn’t bring cash for a tip. But I got a message that they just added a way to add a tip onto a remote order, and I did so! I’m definitely upping all my online tipping.
- Getting gas — I took my wife’s car yesterday because it was blocking mine, and mine today. Both of us had “50 miles remaining” of gas. Cue Twilight Zone music. The gas station was the only place that was as deserted as I imagined. I kept looking for the crows and vultures.
- Coming home — For the first time I got to witness the process that has been set up in our garage for disinfecting everything that comes into the house. Everything is left on a long white table. My nephew, in mask and gloves, cleans off each item. Items are then delivered to the appropriate person in the house. It’s quite a production, especially with a household of 10 ordering almost everything delivered through one form or another.
One more day and we are relieved of needing to wear masks and gloves all the time when we leave our space.
As I’ve mentioned, my father-in-law’s age and medical history put him at risk. Until the antibody test is available and we can see if he has either had the virus or been exposed and developed an immunity, we will continue to take extra precautions when we’re around him. Plus, there’s new information coming out seemingly every day that we need to consider. More about that tomorrow. Until then, happy to be safe and comfy back in our space.0……