For a few months I had been reading on Twitter about some kind of epidemic over in China that doctors and experts that tracked that sort of thing seemed to be really freaking out about. They’d tweet out statistics and graphs trying to alert us regular people about how dangerous it was and how there is no way it was going to stay in China.
So when they tweeted out that the whole city of Wuhan was in lock down and the virus seemed to be moving swiftly into the rest of the world I stopped in at a Walgreen’s and bought plenty of cough syrup, rubbing alcohol, Airborne, cough drops and hand sanitizer. I walked out with my self care remedies and breathed a sigh of relief.
The drum beat of deadly epidemic became louder as the weeks went on so each shopping trip I would buy a few extra things, sponges, canned goods, soups, Goldenseal and Echinacea. Once Italy got locked down I began to feel like my instincts were right. I bought some extra jugs of water and settled in for the Armageddon. And last week it began.
First I got sick. On Friday I got a low grade fever, dry cough and other flu like symptoms and I was ready. I drove home and tucked in for my quarantine. I’ll get more into this on my next post but needless to say I’m fine now after a week of feeling lousy and paranoid and religiously taking Airborne with Goldenseal and Oil of Oregeno.
Please don’t ask if I got tested. There were no tests and there are no tests. I wasn’t going to go around contaminating all of San Francisco and its emergency rooms trying to get one. I stayed home and prayed I wouldn’t have lung problems.
Anyhoo, I spent that weekend on the couch, becoming more and more alarmed by the announcements of permanent school closures and then Sunday night the declaration by our governor of all bar and restaurant closures. It seemed like it was getting pretty serious.
To avoid people, on Monday I took my dogs to the beach at 6am and got home to an email from a business association I belong to with the headline “SF Lock Down beginning midnight, Tuesday”.
“Huh??? How can they do this?” I thought to myself. “This is the USA, California,” I thought. “They can’t force me to stay inside or reduce my liberties and freedoms!”
I got panicky, melancholy, wistful, angry as the sun set that night. I was freaking out that they wouldn’t let me get my dogs out. A walk isn’t enough for them. They are big baby monsters. They need to run around and fetch and play to get all their energy out.
Would the police be blocking off streets starting at midnight? I was already feeling claustrophobic thinking of not moving off my block for close to a month. I still was not feeling well but how could I not go to the beach for that long? Not go surfing or skateboarding or hiking? I paced and complained to my husband in the kitchen. We planned to leave before dawn to escape any barricades that might be happening in our neighborhood and get the girls out to the beach without getting busted.
It was dark when we left. We were nervous for what we’d find with a city on lock down. The streets were quiet but there were no police, no barricades. Everyone seemed free to drive around to their various destinations. I was surprised as the sun came up, how many cars were actually on the road.
The beach was cold and beautiful and there were already people on it that had the same idea as us. Relief came over me as I realized this was just a firm suggestion from the city but not an actual enforceable rule. They just didn’t want large gatherings of people in workplaces and public places. We let the dogs play and said hi to fellow San Franciscans from a distance and then made our way back to the car.
We drove through the neighborhoods, taking stock of what was open. Starbuck’s and other corporate chains were closed. Our bagel shop was open! Coffee shops offering just to go items were open. Hardware stores, open. Furniture stores, hair salons, nail salons closed, closed, closed.
There were tons of people out and about popping into the market or grabbing a coffee but there was a quiet feeling surrounding everyone. There was no stopping for chit chats. Everyone was pacing their walking to not get too close to others. A mom wearing a mask was walking her baby in a stroller.
No one was frantic. No one was loaded up with toilet paper. Shoppers only had one bag of groceries. I watched as one guy came out with just a box of Le Croix.
“Of course.” I said to myself. “So San Francisco.”
We drove back to our apartment, having successfully avoided all human contact, and tucked ourselves in for our quarantine.