Yesterday morning we drove to Cannon Beach to pick up our mail. We had not gone anywhere other than walking the beach for over 12 days (the last time Gary picked up the mail), but we had spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at used CDs (Gary) and bidding on scraps of kimono silk (me). The USPS does not do home delivery in our area. We had ordered a couple of books (eh-hem!) and warned the post office we would not be in for a while. I carried a huge bag out to the car.
It had been 16 days since we spent time in public, and even then I did not hug my Scrabble partner. I was already taking precautions.
When my mother spent the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day at the beach as a child, she did not actually live here. But my grandfather did live here and only here at least since the 40s. My husband and I moved to my grandfather’s house when my grandmother left it to me in 1979. We have lived here since.
During the 2015-16 flu season, I sat across from students in the high school library who had the flu and even secondary infections without getting sick. I’d had my flu shot.
The following year, same thing.
I caught a cold in 2019, but not the flu. I was not careful, but I got my shot.
No grocery store delivers to my community, but I’ve always kept my pantry stocked. I have baked bread and cake and pies. We’ve had freshly made corn tortillas and enchilades, chili and pasta. Yesterday we had pasta with homemade pesto from the freezer. But the wine ran out, the milk was gone. Plenty of dried fruit on the shelf but no fresh or frozen fruit. I was down to three eggs. It was time to venture out.
We planned so very carefully.
Recycling, post office, local grocery store, and home in an hour. I was a wreck before we left, did not sleep most of the night before, and then ached all over from stress. A family member did not return our call the night before and I fretted about that too. I recognize my reaction is overblown. There is too much time and not enough focus.
Yesterday, I touched with only my hands and distanced myself the required 6 feet in the post office. Gary opened the door to the car and I placed the mail in the back seat. He squeezed Purell into my palm so I could clean my hands before I touched anything else. We did the same routine at the grocery store. I put milk, eggs, yogurt, oranges, oil, ww flour, and wine in the back of the car, cleansed my hands before getting in, and placed milk in the fridge. We spread the mail out in the garage, Paper packets will be okay to open tomorrow. Plastic shipping bags will take longer. I stripped before entering the house and scrubbed my hands, took a shower and washed my hair. We will not touch the groceries for three days to allow any virus to die. Just in case. It’s all just in case.
We are maybe obsessive. We are cautious. We are at risk due only to age. We remember the HIV epidemic—the deaths of people we cared about—all too well. We have neighbors with several risk factors, and rentals still holding tourists. No one wants to get sick, but yes, it could happen to any of us. It could happen to either one of us. And we need one another.
It’s been a saying between us for fifty years:
You need to take care of yourself, we say, because you have to last a long time.