One month in.
We’re all on different timelines for shut-in status. My quarantine unofficially began exactly four weeks ago today, when I decided not to go to that Cat’s Cradle show that everyone else went to. At the time, I thought I was erring on the side of caution, even as I ordered takeout and fielded summons from friends in attendance, and worried my decision would be vindicated by people I knew getting sick. To my knowledge that didn’t happen, and now, four weeks later, in a wholly different universe, in which standing shoulder to shoulder in a large crowd of friends and neighbors to watch live music feels increasingly like a dream from another life, I regret that I didn’t go. It would have been nice to see everyone one last time. It would have been oddly comforting to go into lockdown with my ears still buzzing from the last live show until who knows when.
These days, as I’ve settled into, if not acceptance, then a more comfortable state of persistent disquiet, I’ve spent some time reflecting on those last few weeks/days before this became wholly real feel. It’s all kind of “The Last Time I” stuff, which sounds more morbid than it is. Some of it’s more emotional (Last I Hugged My Mother—March 2). And some of the more quotidian feels absolutely precious now (Last Time I Had Drinks With Friends at My Favorite Local Bar—March 6). But a lot of the Last Ofs (Last Time I Non-Essential Shopped—IKEA, March 6, Last Time I Saw A Movie in the Theatre, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” March 10—it’s an absolutely gorgeous film, by the way) were already a bit fraught, laced through with anxiety. I got up twice, maybe three times, during the movie to wash my hands. I walked down aisles at IKEA half holding my breath.
The Last Trip was no exception. It was a last minute forty-eight hours (March 4-6) in Charlotte for work trip that was front-loaded with a bunch of complications (hotel oddity, scheduling dilemmas, traffic from a Trump rally). I still had a foot so fully planted in the old world that I remember being mostly worried about the old things (Does my stomach hurt? Will I get reimbursed for this meal? Where do I park safely overnight in downtown Charlotte?), even as I checked into the chain hotel (one of those joints with a front desk that looked like a Hudson News and a lobby like an airport concourse), and found the lobby full of guests wearing surgical masks and drinking margaritas out of straws.
That night, I stood on the roof of the hotel with a couple of coworkers, at a corporate meet market bar, full of young women teetering on stilettos and heavily cologned baby bankers. We, my coworkers and I, didn’t fit in, but the view of the skyline was nice and they had one of those “THE FUTURE!” glass fire pits, so we chatted beyond the din of club music and clinking Cosmo glasses.
I remember looking down at a church, dark, amid the quilt squares of skyscraper lights, and thinking, “I wonder if this is what the end of the world would feel like.”
Famous last words.
And seriously, guys, we have to make it through to the other side. I have to be able to get out and get away and travel again, because downtown Charlotte cannot be my last ever exotic destination. I cannot have my abiding memory of the wider world to be drenched in Axe Body Spray, eager to tell you about its new Beamer, haloed by the glow of thousand empty corporate office windows.I don’t know about a lot of things, but I do know that.
Picture today is of downtown Charlotte, seconds before the Plague.
As of this writing, 308, 757 people have recovered from COVID-19