Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Immobility Of The Mobile

I shall admit I am puzzled when I see marinas in Key West as full of boats as ever and the harbor filled with boats at anchor. Even as unemployment is rife and the purpose of being stationary escapes me I see no one taking advantage of their ability to be alone. Why I ask myself do they not disappear to some quiet anchorage by themselves, and remain socially distant in a giant natural swimming pool? 
I took the picture below a week or so ago, after Simonton Beach was closed and Rusty and I were taking a dawn walk. He said nothing, kept to himself and settled in for one more day of doing nothing much I suppose. Now that we are quarantined I feel rather as though we live similar lives even those of us with homes, no purpose no pursuit no objective other than getting through one more day. 
The homeless shelter on Stock island has increased capacity with tents and spread cots further apart and is now staying open 24 hours. I cannot imagine sleeping en masse pondering the virus in a population with so many health problems as it is. One's own restrictions get a fresh perspective. Bicycle isolation:
The parking lot at the Hyatt on Front Street is usually packed with rental scooters, but things have changed.  In pondering the immobility of people who describe themselves as sailors in Key West, people living on boats to earn a  living here, I have also come across stories of people traveling and living in vans reduced to immobility by the coronavirus lock down. Formerly fashionable van lifer Instagram and YouTube accounts have become quarantine diaries of young hipsters parking their vans and rushing home to their parents' basements to live in quarantine far from their "self contained" homes on wheels.
My wife looks at me severely when I express my astonishment at how quickly they folded and she admonishes me that they are young and impressionable not like old rigid mentally limited goats like me. I have to say that spending time on the boat together I find solitude quite pleasant and I fully anticipate being equipped to live apart in our retirement van if or rather when this situation arises in the future. Indeed we had already envisioned building our van to be off grid self sufficient and this pandemic hasn't changed our minds about that, for sure.
I wonder if the fashionable van lifers will think twice about going mobile after this business is over? I'd like to hope so, as all fads pass in time and if the passing of this one is speeded up I'd be grateful to reduce general awareness of people living off grid. For me the van is a way to travel in retirement, to see more of the world and be comfortable doing it at less cost. Fewer vans cluttering up the byways and parking areas and off grid locations the better. It seems a rather harsh way to make people re-evaluate their lives however. I'd rather we had no virus and no van fad either.
We like to think that adversity brings out the best in us and that isn't exactly borne out by the coronavirus fiasco. People living in vans are being hounded all over the world, angry locals react like medieval villagers faced with an outbreak of plague.  Solitude and isolation are the answer I find, not clumping together in groups for "safety."
I continue to live my routines supplemented by a couple of surgical masks my wife fortuitously had left over from my stay in the hospital in 2018. I have a wheelchair and a walker and sundry medical devices left over from the three months I spent in bed but so far only the cane and the masks are proving useful in my restoration to health. I keep the mask in my car and only wear it when I am anywhere close to other people as I find it hard to breathe. Of course we are now told the virus can linger in the air for hours after an infected person walked by while simply breathing. If that really is the case, and I cannot fathom such a rumor to be true, then we might as well all give up because we must be infected by now.
As of this writing 2 people in Monroe County have died from the virus, the other death being the local Keys economy but of that we can figure nothing out yet. 40 people they tell us are known to be infected which more than anything gives you an idea of few people among the population of 75,000 have been tested. And here is a truly mind boggling statistic:  I have heard that around 2,000 cars have been stopped and turned back at the checkpoints closing the Keys to tourists. People really do imagine they can still vacation here.
Indeed we read of a visitor who was turned back and who ran the checkpoint only to be stopped and arrested.  According to the story she wanted to drive a bridge in the Keys as part of her "bucket list" of lifetime achievements. Getting handcuffed may not have been one. The lack of perspicuity  brought to light by the pandemic is mind boggling. Either we revert to normal living and keep our fingers crossed or we get hard core and deal with this threat and get it over that way.
Had I a boat or a van and were I unemployed I would happily float out of cellphone range and pass my days eating my supplies and living large with whatever form of exercise were available. I doubt I would sit tight and count the ways my neighbors piss me off. I don't think I should prefer to spend the time locked in parents'basement either, assuming they were even alive to offer me refuge.