It’s finally here. The end of total
lockdown. Am I ready? Absolutely not. I like my burrow. I don’t
wanna play with others.
We’ve fashioned a comfortable little
routine. Week days, work. Evenings, spend time alone together.
Weekends, yard and house work and, sometimes, an adventure.
The adventures are mostly food and view
related. They require us to travel along Highway 101 thirty to
forty-five minutes south. Which is a mini-vacation in itself. People
come here from all over the developed world to drive this highway. My
sweetheart and I, we just buckle up and go, the little dog in her
back seat safety perch and the cat at home, guarding the house from
whatever intrusions he fears. Probably a bug. Talk about privileged
lives. We ain’t got much but we’ve got it all.
Former neighbors gave us the idea. They
liked to go to a certain restaurant, get takeout, drive two minutes
to the ocean, and watch the waves while they ate. As it happens, that
modest restaurant makes the best fish and chips on the coast. No
soggy beer batter. No fancy coleslaw. No stingy portions.
We worried that this institution might
be lost to the pandemic.
When the first Covid cash arrived, my
sweetheart suggested we use some of it to help keep our small local
businesses afloat. Wow. What a very pleasant patriotic practice. And
it hasn’t all been food. Over the months we’ve helped keep
America strong by shopping at Grandma’s Greenhouse, the feed
stores, the locksmith down the street, a roofer, the hardware
store—though that’s a franchise operated by a local. Of course,
these happen to be the places we’ve always shopped, but now we
could pat ourselves on the backs, all noble in our consumerism.
Ice cream had been a forbidden fruit
for health reasons, but we couldn’t let the nearby ice cream palace
or the iconic creamery in the next county suffer economic ruin, could
we? Pounds for a purpose and a treat for the dog, who we are trying
to convert to a pet who loves the car and travel and her safety seat.
So far, ice cream isn’t enough of a bribe.
We weren’t hiding under a rock. We
knew the pandemic was taking a terrible toll; the sheer numbers of
deaths assured that. Multiply each death by a family, friends, work
colleagues, perhaps students, clients, patients, the losses became
staggering, and the former administration’s deceptive,
money-grubbing, incompetent response was revealed as criminal.
Covid has forever changed our lives. We
follow the guidelines and make our drop-in-the-bucket contributions
and stay sane with our little routines.
Then we found Chubby’s. Is there a
more effective method of funneling Covid cash into a rural county’s
economy than by patronizing our food trucks? Chubby’s is a basic
burger chuckwagon. The friendly pest control guy told us they made
the best burgers he’d ever tasted.
Out came our second Economic Impact
Payment. Chubby’s only accepts orders online. This was new to us,
but through trial and error, we’ve indulged ourselves twice. Maybe
the third time we’ll get the fried onions, onion rings,
mustard-mayo-ketchup, cheese, and timing right. They only stock so
many patties per day and when they’re out, they close, a horrid
surprise after a fogbound drive when the ocean is mostly invisible.
The newest problem for these businesses
is lack of employees. What’s with that? The pizza and grinders
place we favor is pleading with customers to be kind to staff because
they’re all working ten-hour days, fourteen days in a row. They’ve
had to cut back on deliveries and close two days a week. The same
with our fish and chips place. Is it continued fear of covid? The
unvaccinated? The unvaccinated and unmasked? It’s hard to admit to
myself that I can’t go and apply. Even if they were desperate
enough to hire someone with white hair, my body wouldn’t last an
hour at restaurant pace.
But that’s not what I set out to say.
It crept up on me—the beginning of the reopening of our county.
First there was my friend the Librarian
who came to drop off a brilliant red daylily and I was so excited to
see her, I insisted she come inside. The first other than service
people to do so since lockdown. Then there was my sweetheart’s
friend of many years who appeared like an emissary from the Golden
Crown Literary Society. We three actually rode in a car together and
ate inside a restaurant. Two other firsts.
The Handydyke emailed to invite us to
watch the annual Blessing of the Fleet—we’re a commercial fishing
town—with her, the Pianist, and maybe some other friends, from
their deck. Five of us showed up, unmasked, vaccinated. It was just
like old times. The CDC said we’d be safe. And it felt wonderful,
especially the hugs. I should have checked; is it safe to hug again?
How am I going to preserve our
hermitage, when seeing friends is such a pleasure? I loved eating by
the ocean with my sweetheart and our little dog Betty who dislikes
oceans as much as cars. We may have to leave her home and bring
(gasp) two-legged friends.
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, Accidental Desperados, is
available at Bold
Books. You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2021 Lee Lynch.