We’ll be back

I can tell you everywhere I’ve been since February 18. I know because, first of all, from February 18 till February 29, I went absolutely nowhere. I recall that first week, after my

SURGERY

my visiting stepfather trying to get me to come to museums and nature centers and I was all, What even is my name, even? I was so OUT of it. I didn’t have the wherewithal to leave the house till February 29, when my neighbor had a party. I made it two hours and slept for 12.

I also know everywhere I’ve been since 2/18 because my phone tells me. If you have an iPhone, you can find your locations in your settings (if you really want to know how to do it I’ll tell you in the comments) and it’ll tell you everywhere you’ve been for the last few months.

And FURTHERMORE, I also know because once it got scary to go outside, I wrote on the calendar everywhere I’d been, so that I knew when two weeks had passed and that particular place was “safe.”

Everyone I told that to misunderstood, by the way. “Well, just because it was safe then doesn’t mean it’s safe now.”

Do I seem stupid or something? Because people say stuff like that to me all the time and I’m thinking, Really? Do they really think I’m that touched in the head?

What I MEANT was, I was safe from having caught anything at any of those places two weeks after I’d been to them. So everywhere I’ve been is on my calendar and I nervously counted the days till I knew going there had been without incident.

Here’s where I went:

Two garden stores on two different Sundays. The doctor. Voting. All done between the first of March and the 12th.

My last outing, on 12 March, was when I took Iris to the vet. We had already heard the news that it was virus-y out there, and when my vet coughed in that tiny exam room, I was all, Well, I’m dead now. Feelin’ the silk.

I wasn’t. But I nervously watched my calendar till 14 days had passed since coughgate.

So, I’ve left the house 6 times since 2/18, and I’ve left the house not at all for a month. And that is why, my friend, but oh my friend, my friend indeed, I got in the motherfucking car and took a motherfucking drive on April 13. I don’t even know if that’s technically illegal right now, but I Thelma and Louised it. I grabbed my own hand and plunged forth.

There was a plastic spoon in my cupholder, and I’ve no idea what that spoon is from but Ima guess it was ice-cream related. I was delighted when my car actually started, as I’ve copy edited some articles this month that said if you don’t drive your car a bit the tires will go flat and your battery will die a sad public death on the curb.

But there it was! Starting!

Did I remember to drive? Yes! Did I have gas? Look there! A full tank! Probably my mother filled it when she was using it during that, my convalescence. Way to drag out that tank, June!

Tanks! You’re welcome.

Anyway the first thing I noted was the dog pen. My neighborhood is only three blocks long, which I’ve now told you 847 times. My grandmother, the one I’ve turned into, used to tell us, “You know, I was brought up in a gas station.” Her father ran the only gas station in town, and all the men would come there and play checkers and gossip, and she would tell you this like you’d not heard it 9 hundred million times, and that is what I’m doing now.

So my neighborhood is only three blocks, maybe you’ve heard. At the very end of the neighborhood, right at the stop sign, is this smallish kennel where an old Jack Russel terrier lived.

You can imagine how this obsessed me.

Clearly the dog was old. He walked stiffly. He had fresh hay in there, and his dog bowls were always upright, and he had a doghouse that sometimes he was in. But the part where he was almost always in there

HAUNTED

MEEEEEEE.

Finally one day, back when I had my rental Mustang from my

ACCIDENT

(who misses hearing about my accident every day instead of my operation?), I knocked on the guy’s door who owned the dog.

“Yes,” I said, because you know I do that. “Yes, I live two blocks down? In the pink house? And I’m wanting to get more exercise. I wondered if I might take your dog for a walk with me.”

He did not cotton to this idea. He told me she—who knew she was a she?—got a walk every day. Later, other neighbors told me he really does walk her daily and also that she comes inside sometimes. I was glad to have a different car after that so he can’t hate me when I drive past.

Anyway, on my drive out of my neighborhood, I looked for the ol’ Jackie Russel, and not only was she not there, her pen looked very empty and tidy. I think she Jacked her last Russel, y’all.

So that was sad.

The whole time I drove I had this old song in my head.

Having literally not been anywhere since we were told to sit down and shut up, I expected the streets to be ridiculously empty, like in The Stand or what have you. But there were enough cars about to annoy me as I tried to snap photos. This is near my neighborhood, close to work. Look at that other car out there. There was also a be-masked old lady in a Mercedes next to me. It’s Grand Central Station! Yeesch!

I really had no idea what to do with myself, so I drove to work. There were three cars there! What sorta workaholics were there during a great plague?

I turned onto the busiest street in town, and really it was sort of, you know, not busy. I was minutes from Ned’s house.

“Hey, Ned!” I said, into my steering wheel. You can call people from my steering wheel.

“It sounds like you’re in the car,” said Ned, and I screeched, “I AM! Go to your porch!!!”

There’s my boyfriend, fmr., in front of my house, fmr. It doesn’t at all bug me that his only porch decoration is a sprinkler head. Remember all the pretty plants I had on that ledge?

Then I headed downtown, because it’d been awhile since I’d driven all the old men crazy.

Passed the Other Copy Editor’s bed and breakfast. I spent New Year’s there. It’s time for her to be doing Wine Wednesdays, where you go hear live music, drink wine, and sit anywhere in the place you want, from the front porch to one of the rooms. She’s still doing curb service on Wednesdays, where you can get wine to go. I should totally go do that, right?

Okay, again, what’s with the teeming streets? I really expected things to be more dramatically empty than this. Maybe others were like me, just driving around. In fact, there’s a couple over there, holding hands on the empty streets.

Wait.

Is that…?

IT WAS THE TALL BOY AND HIS WIFE.

What the heck? I just ran into them back in February, actually, on a Saturday night, at the movies. We were literally the only people going to see the nominated short films. And now I venture back out and there they are again.

“I like your car!” Mrs. Tall Boy said, as I drove past, waving like a loon. “SIX FEET!” yelled Tall Boy, who’s 6’4″.

Hi, Kit’s store!!!

Hi, Mr. Greensboro!

Oh, theater. I think I miss you most of all.

After that, it was getting dark so I headed home. As I opened my car door and headed in, it felt at once totally familiar and far-off and strange to be returning home from anywhere. It was almost like I’d moved away and was taking a nostalgic trip through my little city.

So that’s the story of my great journey through my great little town during our great plague.

Gone viral,
June

48 thoughts on “We’ll be back

  1. Oh, driving is something I usually don’t want to do, but the other night I ordered take out and had to drive into Minneapolis to pick it up. It was glorious driving by lake Nokomis. The sun glinting off the water. Glorious, I tell you. There were far too many cars on the road in my opinion, yet I was out, so.

    I loved your tour–and your people seeing! How fun! I have only seen people in Zoom.

    Lovely post, lovely June!

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  2. Thoroughly enjoyed the travelogue — felt like I took a mini vacation myself. I’ve been fighting cabin fever, trying so hard to be good, while my 91 year old dad continues to rip and run like a teenager! To be fair, he’s lived through the Depression, a world war, and nearly sixty years of marriage, so he doesn’t get too worked up about anything.

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  3. I am thrilled, THRILLED I tell you! to be seeing this update! I just returned from my weekly-wish voyage out in the world. I just went to pick up my order of yarn from Joann. Joann of the fabric and crafting Joanns. And they gave me free Easter swag! It does feel good and almost like it was illegal to be riding free down the mostly empty streets.

    I had ordered yarn to make little straps with buttons on them to help the people with the wearing of the masks. You hook the ear loops of the mask to the buttons on the strap on the back of your head to keep the skin of your ears from getting sore. So I volunteered to make a bunch but of course I found myself without any cotton yarn. It took Joann’s 4 days to gather the yarn and send me an email to come pick it up. In the meantime I decided to place the exact same order with my online yarn store and see who came through first. Guess who will be swimming in white cotton yarn in a few days?

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  4. Going with you on the ride was almost as good as going out myself. How exciting to see not just one but multiple people you knew! I’ve only seen the familiar checkout folks at the grocery store and pharmacy drive-thru. And 8 billion folks on Zoom.

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    1. I run into, like, the same 5 people all the time. Do you find that you do that? Tall Boy I even ran into once on Christmas. I mean. Come ON.

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      1. It’s like you had your own personal Another Old Lang Syne (Dan Fogelberg RIP ) ( insert crying emoji)

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  5. I loved your tour of Greensboro. About once a week, I have to get the hell out of the house and not just go for a walk. I need to see something other than my neighborhood.
    Last week my daughter and I needed to escape so we went for a drive over to the LA Harbor in hopes of seeing the USNS Mercy (We couldn’t see it as it’s blocked by the cruise ship terminal and the parking lots are all closed). Of course that day was torrential downpours and driving over the two bridges was more than a little nervewracking but we had a lovely adventure. Our next adventure might be a drive south on PCH to see the ocean.

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  6. I am primarily commenting so I can see what my little monster symbol is. I don’t have anything germane to contribute EXCEPT to say great city tour, June! I’ve only been to NC on college visits with my daughter. We drove through Greensboro in 2016 and I looked for your yellow VW bug, but didn’t see you. I’d love to visit your pretty state again!
    Lovely post!

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  7. Great visual tour! My first thought was that Greensboro is MASSIVE compared to how I imagined it; then I realised it looks that way to me because of the wide streets. When you live somewhere with medieval neighbourhoods, mule width alleys, and the main drag is called Calle Ancha (literally ‘Wide Street’) because its 18th century fancy-ass self was left wide enough for a carriage…
    Anyway, no one stopping to you to ask where were your groceries and receipt for same / authorisation to go to work, so there’s that.

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  8. Feelin’ the silk kills me dead too. I feel you are at least part death hag which makes me love you all the more.
    My car did refuse to start last week after sitting too long though I think I had left an interior light on. Tony jumped it with his truck. I had to let it run for an hour. After fifteen minutes I took a forty-five minute ride along all the pretty water spots. I started it the next day and haven’t since. Today is not a good day because I have a nasty stomach disturbance going on. Maybe tomorrow. Thank you for the tour and the Ned sighting. It was quite the pleasure to see your pictures and read your amazing prose. Also your ten month time frame with Ned matches my ten month after widowhood time frame with Tony and that makes me feel good, although I did see two others first but one never got off the ground and the other was brief because married and lying. Anywho, I always thoroughly enjoy your amazing writing.
    I have been out quite sparingly as well, the hot spot stuff continues here. My favorite escape spot Cape May got hit by a tornado yesterday. WTF? It’s a good thing I’m not a literal bible end times believer because this is all some scary stuff. My sympatheties to those where tornadoes killed people. None of that reported here.

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  9. That tour was wonderful! NC is full of charm and your tour was so cool. It seems like the perfect way to dispel the cabin fever we all suffer from. I just went to the grocery store – with a friend. And she put her mask on while I was driving. e gads. I had no left my house in 16 days. Sigh. Ned is adorable. The porch was much prettier with your plants but that house is gorgeous.

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  10. Thanks for the tour. Glad you still know how to operate a car. Speaking of…did you have an operation?

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  11. You would be a perfect Walking Tours of Greensboro guide! Especially if you titillate your group with tales of knowing biblically. We finally got out of the house yesterday. Here’s the problem, all the bathrooms are locked up and my granddaughter and I had to resort to peeing al fresco. It was worth it for a walk on a deserted beach but still.

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  12. I occasionally get the “….. ACTually it’s bloop-de-bloop….”. Yeah. I know. How I said it out loud is how it is in my brain. When I try to explain how all the pathways connected in my brain to the thought that I spoke aloud people tend to look at me like I’m insane and I tend to get the “okaaaaay?”. I know what I’m talking about and in my head it all makes perfect sense.

    Why does Ned have to be so danged cute? I want to dislike him in peace.

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  13. I leave the house about twice a week but I am still going to go out for a nice long drive one of these days. I need the alone time. Thing is, if I go for more than a couple hours I’m going to need a potty stop and I’m thinking there’s either no place open for that or no place you’d want to enter (truck stop bathrooms no thank you!). Maybe I’ll just have to restrict liquids and do the best I can.

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  14. There have been a few times when I’ve had to just get in my car and take a drive, like we did on Sunday afternoon when I was a little kid. I’m an introvert and kind of love waking up in the morning and know there are no plans, but even so, it’s hard to know I can’t even wander through TJMaxx!

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  15. “I was glad to have a different car…” I almost spit coffee on my computer screen, also the photo of Ned on the porch made me laugh. That’s sad about the little dog.

    WHY didn’t you tell us you had an accident! Were you injured?! I vaguely remember you had surgery. I have been to the grocery store about four or five times, but only during the early hours for seniors. From the beginning of the shelter in place order, many customers in the store had masks, but the last trip most of the seniors had masks, unfortunately, most of the youngish employees did not. Last week I shopped at a new Aldi in a small town south of me, ALL their young employees had masks and they were outside wiping down all the buggies (carts for you non-southerners). I’ve been to the drug store twice where I had to go inside. Just yesterday I had to pick up an Rx, so I go through the drive-in with 97 other people, waiting, waiting, waiting. I get the Rx, get home open it and there were ONLY nine pills (vitamins) in the bottle, there should have been 15. Back to the drug store, back in drive-in line with 123 other people, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. Finally, I get to the window, explain how there should be 15 pills, but only got nine. The young lady returns my order to me. I made one mistake, I pulled away from the window BEFORE checking the bottle. Still ONLY NINE PILLS!!!!! I made a U-turn got back in line and waited, this time there were only 39 people in front of me. When I drove up to the window I said, “I’m back.” I asked if the other six pills had been placed in another bottle and didn’t make it to the bag with the other nine I had returned twice. The lady took the bottle and apologized. When she returned my Rx bottle to me I didn’t move one inch before I opened the bottle and counted all 15 pills. What an ordeal just for Vitamin D! What an ordeal this must be for all the essential employees, especially at the drug stores and grocery store. There is still traffic in the Atlanta area, but greatly reduced, which is nice when I have to go someplace.
    Tee

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  16. That was kind of you to offer to walk Jack Russell. I enjoyed the tour of downtown. Wait do you actually know tall boy and his wife? Or is he just a Greensboro resident who you keep bumping into? I must have missed that post. There are more people driving around than I anticipated but still not as many which makes it a great time to take my daughter out practice driving. Good God, she needs the practice so thank you pandemic.

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    1. I dated the Tall Boy back in 2011. He used to be on here a lot, but then he got married and appears less often. It was so weird. They were almost the only people on the street, anywhere, and there they were! People I knew! Half of them biblically.

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      1. Half of them you knew biblically!! I’m dying here.
        And then I read the next comment and thought Mr G had a stiffie in the wind.

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        1. His name is actually Nathaniel Greene–and I may be misspelling it–but I’ve always called him Mr. Greensboro, and right along the lines of people saying, “Just because it was safe THEN doesn’t mean it’s safe NOW,” people very smugly say, “ACTUALLY, that’s not Mr. Greensboro, that’s Nathaniel–” and that is when I bludgeon people right in the noggin.

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          1. Gumbo grew up in Greensboro, Georgia, which was also named for Mr. Greensboro. In fact, Gumbo briefly attended the Nathaniel Greene Academy. I am not sure if G’boro, Georgiaversion, has a statue, though.

            It does not. The statue in the middle of town (“town” – it’s small) is for the Confederate dead.

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      2. Oh, that is weird. I want to ask about Ned but I fear I have hung out here too long to decide to ask now. Like when you are at a party and you should know someone’e name by the end of the night and it is too late to ask so you make an awkward ‘Great to see you’ vague kind of good-bye. Not sure how far back I would have to go to get some idea of why you aren’t together anymore, but are still friends?

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        1. Ned and I met 10 months after I was separated. I don’t mean I was split in two, which I would have led with. Anyway. he was mid-40s then, never married, WHICH SHOULD HAVE TIPPED ME OFF.

          We dated for several years, and lived together for one, but commitment is not his strong suit. Several readers here are not fans because he broke my heart and I was a mess for several years. Some particularly lovely readers/alleged blog friends went away forever because I was a mess and god forbid I be human.

          I’m fine now. We talk sometimes, mostly because his two cats are from the fostering I’ve done for the shelter. I like updates on them both.

          Does anyone else have anything to add? Oh! Once during a particularly bad fight I threw my leftover taquitos at his car.

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            1. He had to find an all-night car wash to get the refried beans off his windshield. I considered that a personal victory. It was a super-healthy relationship. Caliente!

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  17. Mr. Greensboro is standing in a stiff wind. It’s blowing his cement coat tails. Glad you got out.

    I also get the over-explanation as you describe (that doesn’t mean it’s safe now). For a long time I assumed I wasn’t communicating very well and I suppose that is still possible. But now I assume they are dumb and move along. It suits me better that way.

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  18. I love your city and the tour was perfect! It kinda reminds me of my hometown. Of course we don’t have a Mr. Greensboro. We do have a great theater with rocking chair seats! I will be so happy to be released from self-isolation, I miss hopping in the car and skittering here and there. Great post, great June!

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  19. I considered a “front line” worker and this is my experience every time I venture out and then back home. Feels like I have been to battle and made it out alive somehow!!!

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  20. This was a very fun post. Delightful to see so many of your favorite home town spots all in one writing!

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  21. I love your little town! Thank you for the tour. What a blessing to live in such an amazing place.

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  22. Thanks for the tour, June.You hit all the highlights! Plus Ned! haha!

    My husband and I got into the same car together for the first time on Friday since February 23. It was strange. But good news – I still hate the way he drives and he still hates the way I nag him about his driving. Some things will never change.

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  23. I love all the pictures from your town. The travel company I used to work for always has some openings in Greensboro and Charlotte. I’ve been thinking of taking a winter contract in that area because you make it look so lovely.

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