Doors were slamming shut behind me as I rolled up I5 and headed for home. I’d just left Oakland when my car radio announced that the Bay Area was closing down due to Covid. It was March 2020 and things would never be the same again. I drove a little faster, happy to have a small cooler in the back seat. There would be no restaurants for me on this trip and I was using the box of gloves I had in the car whenever I stopped for gas. As the miles rolled by, paranoia set in and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when there were no checkpoints stopping me from entering Washington State.
It had been a family milestone. An important and improbable discovery. My daughter (who had somehow managed to find me even though I’d changed my name at least 5 times since she’d been born) had now, miraculously found her father. I very much wanted her questions to be answered, but…unfortunately wasn’t much help. The sixties are difficult to explain to someone who didn’t experience those liberating years, for themselves. The only clue I could offer was that perhaps his name had been Arnel. Or maybe it had been Jim, or Jon, or?????? My favorite skirt in high school had been made out of a new indestructible material called Arnel. I liked the word, I loved the skirt, and in the end it turned out to be her father’s name!
He was thrilled to have a daughter and immediately headed to California to meet her. I hit the road to attend the meet n’ greet. Neither of us had any recollection of our initial meeting, but here was this amazing woman who’d managed, against all odds to find both of us.
This year, 2021, I busted out. Got vaccinated, waited at least two weeks and hit the road. I slowly made my way down to San Diego, where my sunglasses were mandatory, the tomatoes are nearly ripe, and the company was stellar.
Now, I’ve stopped in the Bay Area for a few days. Facetime and telephone calls were better than nothing, but now I’m here, soaking up the gloriousness of these beings who are now my family. I spent yesterday evening eating crab drinking wine and laughing with my daughter’s mother who has become a cherished friend. Next is a couple of days floating with my daughter in her pool while we catch up before I get back on the road.
I’m heading up I5. This time things are opening behind me. Tomorrow California is throwing caution to the wind. I do believe other states are following suit which means we’re now on our own. Covid is not over, but it seems we’re being programmed to “live with it”. The media has dramatically changed the way they report on the pandemic. It started out with the enormity of the devastation on a global level and the loss of loved ones. It’s now all about the economy. Not about the continuing death tolls or the severe lingering after effects of the virus. The chaos of the government’s initial non-response lingers. Lots of us have been vaccinated while others derive a sense of self righteousness and indignation from their refusal.
This time, I also have a cooler in the back seat of my car. I’m not interested in “mingling” although I am occasionally staying in a hotel. I’m happy to drop the mask in some situations, but not in others. I’m not heading to Vegas or going to any huge concerts or sporting events. It just doesn’t sound like fun to me. If you invade my comfort zone, I’m stepping back. Meanwhile, I’m hoping for the best while waiting, to see for myself, what actually transpires from this great Opening Up Experiment.