It only took three weeks for the whole world to transform itself into something completely different.
I remember, like it was long-ago occurrence, sitting in a wine bar with Bill and several friends, everyone so jammed in together at the tables you couldn’t walk across the room. Even more people were standing in a space in the back, having not been able to find a place at the tables. Onstage, women were singing. In duos and small groups, or solo, professional singers and rank amateurs, one after another, allotted three songs each. I was one of them, singing with a guitar player I’d been practicing with every week, back before the pandemic.
One after another, we used the same microphone. We sat practically in each other’s laps. There was a big platter of cheeses and salami and olives sitting on the bar and all of us snagged a few bites as we waited for our wine. Looking back, it seemed like a recipe for contagion, and it was. Fortunately, the worst thing going around that night was a stomach flu that I caught and then gave to Bill, which was mild and soon forgotten. That was February 15.
We were so innocent, and so lucky. It was three weeks after the very first Covid-19 case in the U.S. was diagnosed at a hospital less than two miles from where we were singing that night. Researchers later determined that the virus had been loose in our state for many weeks before that. If one of the dozens of performers or one of the hundred or more audience members had already been infected, this would have been a very different story.
Maybe a story like that of the Life Care Center in Kirkland, 22 miles south of here. Nursing homes all over the country have had devastating encounters with the coronavirus, but Life Care Center is the one most people know about because it was unlucky enough to have been the first.
The coronavirus economy finally came for my income last week when I found out I was having my pay (but not my workload) reduced by almost half by my biggest client. That’s caused a fair amount of panic and worry for me and Bill. But really, if we think about it, we’re very lucky. Stuck at home but in a home we enjoy, together instead of alone, surrounded by the beautiful springtime weather. We have a garden and (in my case) a book to work on. We can give live performances on Facebook (in Bill’s case) any time we want. And there are people delivering food and anything else we need–even toilet paper–to our door.
Luckiest of all, we gathered in a large crowded group in Snohomish County in mid-February. We shared microphones and food and nobody got sick with anything worse than a stomach flu!
We’ve had several friends and one family member who caught Covid-19. We worried hard about them until they got better. And I still worry about what would happen to Bill or me if one or both of us caught it. Our future, like everyone else’s, is filled with uncertainty and I’ve never been good at dealing with that. Maybe reminding myself how incredibly lucky we’ve been so far is the place to start.
Image: Singing with guitarist Greg Dilley.
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