For the past ten days, I watched the news headlines play out like a chess grandmaster preparing to seal my fate with his first move. International travel warnings. Travel restrictions. Flights grounded. Border walls sealed. Neighboring states shuttered.
Last night at midnight, my town closed.
Today, we join large parts of the world trying to learn how to do normal life when nothing feels normal. The wind will blow through the park swings looking for someone to push. The sun will shine spotlights on baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and skate parks waiting to see who will arrive for their moment of pick-up game glory. Highways and turnpikes will anticipate the bustling crawl of the morning commute. School zone lights will flash greetings for students, but no students will come. No frustrated horns will honk. No homeruns will be hit, no baskets will be swished, and no tricks will be landed. The swings’ cling clang melody normally reminiscent of spring freedom today becomes the anthem of our caged confinement.
Typically, when a place closes, everyone leaves and the last person turns out the lights. But, COVID-19 abides by no rules. Instead of allowing us to leave to go home, it sealed us in our homes and turned out the lights anyway. A couple of months ago after a season of busyness I longed for some time at home, but choosing to be somewhere produces a very different psychological impact than being locked in somewhere even when the where remains the same.
Yes, I can still go to the grocery store, but the empty shelves leave me with a lump in my throat and a queasy feeling in my stomach. I can get in a car and drive, but where would I go? I cannot visit anyone, sit at a park, or plan a fun adventure. I feel like pacing.
Well played, COVID-19, but I’m not saying, “Good game.” I never agreed to play, and you cheat.