Sunday, March 22, 2020

Preparations Without Plywood

The cat at the Hemingway House was indifferent as a cat should be, especially one slaking its thirst.
For the rest of us, the smart humans, the gates are closed and not likely to reopen soon, however much we may wish it. The cats will abide.
Hotels are to close by six o'clock tonight across the Keys, non residents are to be gone and the rest of us stay and pretend to keep the home fires burning until they get back "later."  Naturally I saw plenty of procrastinators around town though this one, the Michigan tag below, to their credit I saw turning outbound on Eaton as Rusty and I walked back to the car. I wish them joy of their return journey relying on housekeeping and best food handling practice to keep themselves uninfected on the long drive.
Mostly I saw clumps of tourists and solo dog walkers on the streets and there were few enough it was easy to stay completely isolated. I have read of some outrage created by other people comparing the coronavirus problem to the HIV epidemic of yore. I think it's understandable to try to compare and rationalize this bizarre time with the nearest similar thing you have known. But outrage is a popular emotion all the time everywhere so we hear outrage when strangers try to rationalize the irreconcilable. Coronavirus isn't HIV, we all know that, but for many people HIV was all they have ever known in terms of unseen health threats.
I have never yet seen Truman Waterfront fenced off, yet the lack of traffic, the lack of people, the closed businesses, the hotels evacuating, all it adds up to in my hyped up mind is hurricane evacuation. Yes I know there is no plywood made that will save us in this scenario, and I know the hurricane facing us is invisible and thus hard to quantify but everything we see and feel and worry about leads back to the only similar experience I can remember: hurricane evacuation.
I am used to staying behind as the long lines of cars leave, as the evacuation orders come thick and fast, as facilities shut down and the hospital closes and then the lockdown at the police station. Nothing like that now. Everything shuts down around us and we stay in place, mobile home residents stay, Publix runs out of toilet paper, chronically, but Home Depot keeps it's sheets of plywood, the hurricane shutters continue to collect dust, the tourists, the ones who lack imagination dawdle on their way out of town not threatened by an obvious visible cloud of destruction.
The cover on the Southernmost Point seems to be working, or perhaps there is no one left who wants to take a selfie with the iconic point. Perhaps this isn't a good time to be reminded that we live at the end of the Earth. There's nowhere to run or to hide. People with boats don't actually take off and anchor away from land as they do in their imagination as they plot for the end of the world as they know it. We all have ties to the land, the community, home. Like or not we won't run away and hide.
The Governor may have closed the beaches but the idiots don't care. Granted these aren't the beaches of mainland Florida covered with bodies but if parents don't teach children to take care of their neighbors by not spreading exposure the whole point of isolation is lost. I didn't get out of the car.
Rusty and I had a great walk and Publix had almost no one inside shopping for toilet paper that wasn't there...I got yoghurt for Layne's new Indian cooking fixation in her Insta-pot and some creamy peanut butter for me. The nice lady at the front of the store saw me wiping down the handles of the shopping basket and smiled: "Doesn't hurt to take extra care honey," she said to a man as old as she. It feels futile but I suppose it can't hurt.