Navigating the Pandemic Highway (II)


  1. Mo comes over for dinner and a beer. We sit six feet apart. She’s been reading the maths of the pandemic. Horrified. Terrified. Our anxiety rockets, my heart a steady high beat within my chest and there’s a steady complex tension contained in my stomach muscles. I vibrate. The States has not addressed the need for a complete shut down as China did, with success. Our method of slowly closing the bigger businesses is too slow. To little and too late. Probably. The maths indicates that. New Mexico alone seems to have quadrupled confirmed cases in five days. We’re now at 45 cases. Perhaps more today? I have turned off the internet for the day. I need a break. I make eggs and veggie omlette for breakfast. I sit in the armchair overlooking the Rio Grande Valley to the west. The sun shines and I lean back in the chair, cowboy hat resting on my knees. Only a week ago, I was camping in Oregon on the southern coast with the constant roar of thundering tides. Here the thrumming noise in only in my head. A couple of ravens fly by, squabbling with each other, the cat chases grass in the slight breeze, and Harold sniffs at Rosie’s grave.
  1. On March 13th: 10 confirmed cases in New Mexico. A week later, March 20th, there are 43.
  1. I took a day off from the news. I weeded in the back yard. I walked Harold down into the arroyo, wary of coyotes and laughing at how two raves swooped and bombed each other, catching the up drafts, wings pinned, feet out, squawking and playing together. Fry bread and vegan chilli for breakfast and lunch. Beer for dinner. Working on a memoir. Editing a friends novel. Doing dishes. Ignoring the dirty floor that should be swept. The day lasts, opens up, dawdles, springs ahead, slows down as clouds come in, and settles with sunset. That wasn’t so bad.
  1. Wills and Testaments. I woke up with the need to write a will. I’d not thought about it, not seriously, until today. Mo had mentioned doing hers, my neighbor and friend, talking about what she’d want to hand on for others to keep. I woke up with a list in my head. The practicalities of this potential health crisis ripping through Madrid, a small high contact village, with an older population, many over 60, many with health issues already. Then those of us like me and Mo in our fifties. I can’t pretend to be invincible as I’d thought most of my life. Nope. This is a real threat. With that in mind, I sat here in bed with my coffee, the pets dozing, the fire flickering, and I looked at all I own. it’s not much by Western standards but most of it has meaning to me. Would it to anyone else though? Is it a burden to ask someone to receive my oldest teddy bear, John, or is it a relief? To have something I treasured my whole life? With the family heirlooms here, is it worth sending back to my English family or do they already have enough of their own? These are the silver teapots from Great-grandparents, the teacups and glassware, the folding wooden desk, the paintings from Gran and sketches from my mum. What of my own artwork and writings? It’s too much to consider but I have to. Even the simplest of wills to pass on the land, vehicles, stuff that my lifestyle has accumulated. The passwords and details of banks and insurances, the what-is-where of my personal finances. Yes. Today, I’ll start with a list. This week, I’ll create a document. I’ll think about who to ask to be the executor. The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t going away without a fight and is taking many of us with it. Lovely morning thoughts, eh?
  1. March 23rd. New Mexico now has 83 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Up 38 in three days. No deaths.
  1. Monday. I work from home, thankful that I can when my friend’s café and Bed and Breakfast are now closed, the tavern is closed, and all our friends’ galleries closed too. The law. Today our Govenor announced more restrictions to limit the contagion. Stay at home, she urges, no more than 5 people can gather, all non-essential businesses must close. The water delivery company comes back and fills my tanks. I’ve ordered more propane. I have no antiseptic wipes. I do have an extra bag of dog food. Nancy makes bread and gives me a loaf. My credit card is declined. Maxed out. I pay the water bill with my bank card. I stretch in the sunshine. I walk the dog down into the arroyo. The wind kicks up. The firewood is low. I have to ration myself. Heatwise. So I drink a beer. The cat sleeps on my pillow. Harold begs. The radio is quiet. A gale whistles through the windows. It’s only six o’oclock.
  1. March 25th. 112 confirmed cases in New Mexico. One death.
  1. Friday. March 27th, 191 cases. Yes, that fast. Govenor Lujan Grisham orders all air travelers into the state to self-isolate in their lodgings for 14 days or be quarantined by court orders. She’s not messing around but I wonder, am surprised that there’s free travel across state borders. I’m glad to be home. Can I admit that? That I decided to drive cross country in 2 ½ days to get here from Oregon, making it before this gets any worse, which it will. There’s no easy quick answer here, no relief in sight and it’s a long term shift in lifestyle, health, risks, affecting everyone and everywhere globally. A nightmare. Fuck.
  1. Macro-scale: Harold barked. At the gate stood two detectives. You can tell. The vests laden with tools of the trade, oh, and the guns. They asked after a couple of my neighbors, had I seen so-and-so? Yes to the one, no for the other. We talked some more. They left.
  1. I coughed myself into anxious dreams. Is this it? The beginning of getting sick? Is this the virus? Am I going to die? I don’t want to die. I need to write that will. Is the cough the kind they described? I’m hot, but a temperature? No, no? No. I’m fine. A tickle in the throat, that’s all. Water will help. An orange will help. I fell asleep finally, worried. I woke, feeling run-down, muscles aching, no cough. I still need to write that will. Later.



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