Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Not Downtown

There is something about coronavirus that destroys variety in our lives. We are the lucky ones, or perhaps the smart ones on the edge of the infection, the ones who stay away from bars and crowds and beaches and indoor dining and protect our infirmities or old age by being cautious. We;ve been doing it for so long one has to make an effort to remember life before masks and hand sanitizer and locked office doors and socially distanced grocery shopping and deliberately planning how to avoid crossing paths with people and the sense of resentment when noses appear above masks or defiant looks accompany an uncovered face. 
I have to think back to times spent on Duval Street watching the swirl of people, since March 15th a sight pretty much unseen. I cannot complain as my health continues to be good but I do complain in my head, a first world complaint, the lamentation of the entitled and the weary. Being out in nature seemed a privilege, and now it seems a confinement. How messed up is that?
Dying a coronavirus death seems as ghastly as anything and people in under developed countries are dying unattended where hospitals can't cope. I cannot imagine being in an ICU in the first or the third world, a place where family members can't visit, where you live alone in a hospital bed and with a fever; a place where there isn't enough staff to look after you and those there are walking the wards live in exhaustion and fear of infecting themselves or their families.
I force myself to a life of repetition, of sameness, of avoidance, of transparency that leads to boredom. No theater, no restaurants, always ordering food to go when we order at all. Gone is the gym replaced by the fake bonhomie of exercise videos. All at home, which is no longer an inviting place to gather. Socially distanced invitations  now consist of spreading food on our ten foot picnic table and distance eating while talking like lawyers visiting their clients in prison. It is bizarre.
The outdoor spaces remain lovely but I am starting to tire of photographing the same places and though my problems are mild they impinge on my sense of being alive. I am lucky my workplace respects our needs and our health and our safety. I read about the Sheriff in Ocala who has banned face masks in his offices. Banned them. What a choice that would be for me with a  wife with no immune system. My office is cleaned and sanitized daily, doors are closed, masks are worn in the corridors and we all grumble because it is annoying but we aren't stupid like the Sheriff in Ocala. I am lucky where I work.
I feel like I am turning into my dog and that may not be that terribly awful. Rusty loves his routines, the sameness of his walks, the familiar excites him and the compensation for being away is made stronger when he returns to new smells and more of the sameness of before. Now he looks forward to seeing what he missed while on the road and he relaxers  when surrounded by the familiar. I need to learn to imitate his contentment. No, actually I fear learning to be content just like him; I want my human edge to stay sharp.
Rusty at home.

One more mangrove root, one more reflection,
My favorite tree, a survivor, close to under water at high high tides, blown this way and that by storms but still producing green leaves and a little shade at the corner of two trails. Trees are filled with infinite patience. I wonder if they would like to pull up roots and travel like me?
Another glorious morning. More of the same, day after day, till the end of our time.