By this universally awful point in 2020, every man, woman and child on earth has felt the impact of our current planetary crisis. As I write the words you may be reading at this moment, there have been 338,225 Covid-19 cases confirmed worldwide, and 14,457 deaths from the virus. In the US alone, there have been 38,167 Covid-19 cases and 396 deaths; in New York City, still most often seen as the capital of the planet, folks are dying at a rate of more than one per hour.
Juxtaposed against this horrific news, as trite as my delivery sounds, there are reasons to hope for, dream of and marvel at humanity. The Bangkok Post recently reported that China has closed down its last temporary Coronavirus hospital, as the number of new cases has dwindled. Also in China, a 103-year-old Grandmother from Wuhan has fully recovered from Covid-19, and all 42 Apple stores across the ROC are reopening.
Back in the US of A, the Cleveland Clinic has reportedly developed a Covid-19 test that provides results in hours, and a San Diego bio-tech company is collaborating with Duke and National University of Singapore on a vaccine. Much closer to home, everywhere one looks, random acts of kindness, large and small, are breaking out, from millions in charitable giving, to volunteerism, to plain old caring, patience and decency in the neighborhood.
It is against this backdrop that Teresa and I will try and share a few vignettes from our lives.
2020’s Rocky Roll-out
Although a few difficult events from the start of the year seem pusillanimous in scale now, perhaps they were a portent of things to come. First, the reliable house gig for my band, The Calcutta Rugs, dried up when a local tavern owner and friend decided to close down regular operations just after the holidays. Music being that thing that feelings sound like, this was no small setback, and in addition to the normal new year stuff, I had to mourn the loss of another roadhouse, and look for a new musical venue for me and my fellow minstrels.
Then, about three weeks into the year, I underwent an elective oral surgery to lose my two remaining wisdom teeth, and found myself over-nighting in the hospital with a raging infection three days later. In the ensuing five weeks or so, I visited my very attentive dentist about every other day, underwent a remedial surgery, endured new and ever-higher levels of pain and bombarded my system with IV and oral antibotics. Teresa took great care of me, I missed a minimum of work, and most folks were kind enough to avoid telling me I looked like hell.
Turning the corner from jaw-ma-geddon, we got another gut-punch when we learned that a close musician friend with chronic pain issues elected to take his own life after over a decade of suffering. At a very tender and informal memorial gathering, his music was played, and his life celebrated, but the bouncing vibrancy of his talent seemed at odds with the nature of his exit.
Notwithstanding bumps, blood, swelling, and Teresa’s own checkered health status, we soldiered on through clients’ individual files and hearings, arraignment dockets, trainings, keeping the household running and such, as we were pushed onward by thoughts of sunny beaches, lilting language, picturesque settings, and yummy food and drink: in a word, vacation. And not the blip trip, the big one; the one that makes itself a carrot on the end of the emotional and occupational stick. But, would we be cleared to go? Was my errant mouth manageable? Was it the right time to bolt, and if we did flee, would we be permitted to come back?
To Flee, or Not to Flee
In one of his earlier works, Mark Twain wrote “The nomadic instinct is a human instinct; it was born with Adam and transmitted through the patriarchs, and after thirty centuries of steady effort, civilization has not educated it entirely out of us yet.” In the same volume Twain opined “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.”
Both Teresa and I fervently believe Twain’s advice and admonitions on travel, and our collective brood has the wanderlust as well; while the planning and execution of any trip at all can cause some stress, the resultant payoff to the mind and spirit is immeasurable. Travel is a prescribed tonic for the soul recurring throughout history, and were it not, the English language in this piece, the digital means to read it, its presumably American audience, indeed the very stuff that binds humanity into semi-cogent civilizations would not exist. Break apart the word “recreation,” and you happen upon “re-create,” not by accident.
So being humble lovers of travel, from the thumb to the far-flung, Teresa and I had booked a long holiday in Mexico months in advance of 2020 as a kind of necessary reward for remaining alive and reasonably well to this point in our lives. And while these decisions always come with a twinge of general guilt, and an extra portion in the context of our five adult children in common, we do check to see if it’s possible all seven immediate planets in the form of family members will line up.
They did not so line up for our pending trip due to everyone’s work and school schedules, but knowing they will one day, we were now booked for a trip that for all the aforementioned context seemed to perhaps be folly. What with a rebellious mouth, a world pandemic and all the uncertainties that go with it, the obvious question was, to flee or not to flee?
Ed. Note: as an exercise in both discipline and diversion from pure politics and the law, these Corona Chronicles will continue, God willing, and we hope you join us for the next installment.