Friday, April 24, 2020

EmptyTown

I live a strange life which sounds like a platitude in the time of coronavirus but what I mean is that after five weeks in Florida lock down mode my life hasn't changed that much from before the pandemic. I feel as though my life is strange because I haven't much changed my routines. My sisters in Scotland and Italy are locked down tight but they live on farms so they aren't trapped in tiny urban apartments with maybe a small balcony to stand on. To be trapped in either sister's location would be a delight for Rusty and I as they both offer (wet and windy) open spaces in northwest Scotland and (hot and dry) open spaces in central Italy.
In Florida we can walk our dogs, shop for essentials, carry a camera (unlike parts of Australia I am told!) and as long as we stay apart from each other we neither break laws nor imperil each other's health. I carry a hospital mask in the glove box, left over from my time in the hospital when I got MRSA in one of my surgical wounds. My wife carefully stored the wheelchair and walker frame and other bits and pieces accumulated in those three bedridden months so that we could offer them to anyone that might need them moving forward. Without decent insurance as I had, it will be horribly expensive to acquire those objects useful for a recovery at home and the idea was to have them to give away as I don't plan on getting killed again thank you. Aren't I surprised to be wearing a  mask that steams up my glasses and makes my face sweat in 95 degree heat.
Above we see the bust of Jose Marti the Cuban freedom fighter who died in 1895 in a battle with Spanish forces colonizing Cuba. He has become a symbol for both sides in the struggle between the Communists in Havana and the refugees in Miami. In Key West he is just another vaguely famous name of someone who made a brief temporary home here between battles. Certainly he would not have been in a  position to make a permanent home here  by buying the 1200 square foot house for sale in the picture below. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms for 900,000 dollars. A pretty little house on Flagler Avenue even with off street parking, but in this town such modest luxury is unattainable for most who actually live here.
I have a few people I would like to have a meal with who are now out of reach. I miss theater performances and the occasional movie at the Tropic. I am fed up shopping like I am on a military mission at the supermarket  or pharmacy watching out for the remotest possibility of close contact. I am grateful to Winn Dixie for their first responder hour Monday and Tuesday nights. I miss seeing the detritus of people, quirky signs that humans were here on the streets. I find it odd to walk streets that are essentially unchanging, untouched by human quirkiness and day to day living. I miss the sounds of the bustle of daily activity, the sense of passing through a stage set of human endeavor. I am surprised by how uninteresting urban settings are without humans occupying them publicly. I don't miss people so much as I miss the traces of their lives imprinted on the world around me. And I am surprised by this new awareness of the absence of people.
There is talk of reopening more businesses and public spaces. So far it is all rather vague as the premise is that as soon as new cases of the virus plateau and start to drop then the re-openings can begin. Only one thousand of 75,000 residents have been tested so far. How they will know when the incidence of new cases is slowing I have no idea. Based on public statements so far this situation seems endless. 
Gratuitous Rusty picture, resting on a  long urban walk.