My world has been reduced to 4 rooms, a stairwell, and a short hallway. The walls are getting closer, the ceiling is approaching the floor, and the outside world is only a fading memory. Life has become a game of waiting.
Is it lunchtime, yet? When do you want to have dinner? What time does Judge Judy start?
I would never last on Gilligan’s Island. It’s time to break out, see something besides the walls and the television.
My phone rings, it’s my son.
We exchange greetings, pleasantries, I ask about his job, his life.
“Hey, dad. You and mom need anything?” He asks. “I’ll stop at the store and bring it to you on my way home.”
“No, we’re doing fine. You know your mom always keep things well stocked.” I reply, truthfully. I don’t add that I am going to the store, I need to get out, see something, somebody, anything. It has only been three days, and I am more worried about my sanity than my health.
“Good, people your age are vulnerable. They said the elderly are at high risk.”
It carried no scorn or contempt. He was concerned.
“We’re fine, but I’m not elderly,” I told him.
“We have everything we need. If something comes up I’ll call you.”
I lied. He couldn’t deliver the sweet sensation of freedom that I craved.
“Have a good day, son. Do you want to talk to your mom?” I handed her the phone before he could answer. I’ll show him who’s in charge.
They finished talking and my wife started a list of things that were on sale, not necessary, but it wouldn’t be a wasted trip. The most important thing on the list, air, sunshine, and my ability to see reason. And maybe something for dinner.
We decided on Firecracker Chicken. A spicy, easy to make delicious walk on the wild side. We needed some boneless skinless chicken breasts. I vowed to find them if I had to go to every store in northeastern Columbus.
I could barely contain my excitement. I was getting away. People, noise, chaos, life, all the things I need.
All of the things everybody needs. I’m convinced mankind needs anarchy, too much conformity bleaches individuality. Quarantine is a safety measure, it will keep you alive, like deep-fried Twinkie’s will keep fed, but won’t nourish you.
You need a little madness, you need to see the disturbing, delightful press of humanity. You need to smell the anger as the hordes close in on the last can of Pringles. Add some predators and you have the history of man in aisle 7.
I was singing a little Jefferson Airplane as I tied my shoes to go to the store.
Take me to a simple place
Where I can easily see my face.
And, my phone rang. It was our other son. He lives in Chicago.
“Hey, dad. You’re staying home, and safe, aren’t you?”
There was a slight edge to the question. Almost an accusation.
“No, no, no, what makes you think we’re doing anything. I’m just sitting here, having a snack, something healthy, maybe some carrots and celery, not too much, though, I don’t want to eat too much, and some Coke, on ice, in a glass, with a twist of lemon. It’s really good that way. We were just talking about lunch. Maybe grilled cheese, something we have here.” I said.
I looked at my wife and mouthed the words, “How do they know? Sweep the house for bugs.” The place could use a good sweeping, anyway.
“Ok, I talked to Hunter (our other son, not his real name) and he said he would get anything you needed. You need to stay inside.”
“Of course. Have a good day. Do you have to work today?”
“Yeah, I just got here and thought I would call and see how you guys were. I’ll call tomorrow.” He said, hanging up.
“I have to go, quick, here you keep my phone,” I said heading out toward the door.