How do you “reopen” when you’ve never really closed? And what effect will all that freedom have on our lives?
Do you want the truth? Florida has never really, truly, been on lockdown. Not one day.
Priorities down here have always been skewed. And I’d give examples, but you don’t need them. They’re part of the national psyche and the reason we are the butt of every state-related late-night joke. We’ve become a punchline and the reputation is not entirely undeserved.
Yeah, I know that after “reopening,” our cases are nearing 50K. But that’s the thing. Nobody stops you from doing anything here. My husband and I could gather our friends, get naked, and walk around spreading droplets with a loudspeaker down LeJeune Road and little would happen. I think people got citations in Miami Beach. I very much doubt they’ll have to pay them.
Yep. Florida. Where the “F” stands for freedom to die.
But here’s where you, a smart person not living in Florida, can take advantage of our situation.
Because we never really locked it down, we, especially the lower region known as South Florida (Broward, Miami and The Beaches, West Palm Beach) have had enormous growth in cases and deaths, but also the clearest view of what the post-lockdown Covid-19 foreseeable future will look like for everyone else. (The foreseeable future? Ha! Was there ever such a thing?)
WATCH: This is How Far Human Coughs Spread
Spoiler: it suuuuucks! But. Go ahead. Close your eyes. You’re now feeling sleepy. Very, veeeery sleeeeeepy…
10:13 a.m. – The dogs wake you up by insistently licking your face. It’s way past their feeding time because you no longer bother with alarms. It’s not like anyone schedules anything before noon anyway. Your husband feeds them, makes coffee, gets ready for work. For excitement’s sake, you may or may not fight about something before he leaves.
10:27 a.m. – You weigh yourself. Oh, good! You’ve only gained another four ounces since yesterday, even though you had an entire pizza last night.
10:30 a.m. – Getting ready takes you minutes these days. You shower while brushing your teeth and listen to the news at the same time. You drop your pajamas in the hamper and take another pair of pajamas to put on. No need to brush your hair. It’s not like the brush would be able to go through it anyway. You take your temperature and measure your levels of oxygen in the blood with your pulse oximeter. You are no longer able to see the nails of your hands and feet. Your brain has blocked them.
10:45 a.m. – You put out the trash and your neighbor with the loud voice starts walking over without a mask. You drop the trash in the middle of the driveway and run back inside, then call her on the phone and explain you’re asthmatic and need to be strict with distancing, thank her for understanding. You are not, and have never been, asthmatic.
10:55 a.m. – You realize the only thing that will get you through this day is focusing on a deadline, on work that must be done today, like your column for a certain website. Finally, bliss.
2:30 p.m. – Your mother calls from Puerto Rico. She’s scared. You repeat the thing about how she will be (mostly) fine if she stays inside. But it’s not that: there was another earthquake that morning, and now the governor is announcing a referendum on the political status of the island as if those two things were related and she didn’t have enough to do dealing with COVID. You can’t even. Really, you can’t.
3:15 p.m. – By now you’re too hungry to cook, so you browse Uber Eats for something. You marvel that all the regular menu items are available. Only your favorite Chinese restaurant seems to have closed permanently. You splurge on a Peruvian Lomo Saltado with white rice and fries, of course, and a frozen chicha morada (a refreshing purple beverage made with blue corn). The delivery guy leaves it on your porch wearing a mask and gloves. He takes a picture of the food, waves at the glimpse of you he catches though the window.
5:00 p.m. – You try to get back to work but can’t concentrate. Where did the day go? And today you didn’t even watch all those videos of nurses and people doing nice things for neighbors in other states. You decide to take a drive. Surely there won’t be traffic. People are staying inside, as you have for the past 35 days.
5:15 p.m. – You are having a stroke. Bird Road is so full of people, you wonder if it’s a dream or if you’ve traveled back in time. (No wonder all the restaurants were functioning. How did you think that was happening? You call yourself an idiot.) Still, could people at least wear masks? You abort the drive and head back. You’re gonna need to lie down.
5:30 p.m. The mail arrived while you were out. You open it standing in front of the blue county recycling bin and throw everything out except the bills. You do not need anything being sold right now, and lately, there is not much coming in from writing assignments. You worry you’ll have to start batch cooking to save money, immediately self-chastise, remind yourself of the many who are worse off than you. You go online on your phone and contribute to the local church feeding children “lunches de verano” in spring.
5:40 p.m. – You pay bills from your phone [lucky you who can!], send your husband photos of the ones he pays. He calls to say hello. You feel bad you do not have interesting things to share except that Alfredo, your former boss, called from Spain. His dad is dead. He was not able to see him or say goodbye.
5:45 p.m. – Finally, you’re ready to go inside and wash your hands. No need to undress. You’d gone out in your pajamas and you need that nap now. The dogs are waiting for you. Is it you, or have they moved into your bed? You yank your pillow away from one of them and plop down, feeling like Michael Cohen must feel in his white-collar jail. Privileged, yes, but…
6:45 p.m. – You wake up to dusk. The street’s so silent. Where is everybody? You think of calling a friend, or your kids, but what would you tell each other? You turn on the news. The day before, the national death total surpassed 50-thousand. It’s close to 51-thousand now. You let your face fall into your hands and cry.
6:59 p.m. – The doorbell. It’s that handyman who was supposed to be at your house at four, give you an estimate for the back-door latch that’s been broken for years, but only now bothers you. He is sorry to be “a little late.” You say nothing because you had forgotten he was coming. He wears no mask or gloves. You offer him some. He says, no, no, he doesn’t wear that stuff. “We all have to die sometime.” You go Beyoncé-level apeshit on him, then watch him leave from your window, then wash your hands. Again.
7:15 p.m. – Your husband comes home, offers to cook something. You both end up eating Ben and Jerry’s New York Fudge Chunk for dinner and bingeing on Killing Eve until you fall asleep on top of the dogs, laughing like children at all the fake death.
Tomorrow you get to do this all over again. If you’re lucky.
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