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