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Would You Like to Come Over for Dinner … in 10 Years?

  • July 12, 2020

In retrospect, this was the night where I was really starting to comprehend not only that no one was coming over for dinner for a long, long time, but that something huge and terrible was about to happen, with no end in sight. I put all this sadness and terror into the ruined pork, which, in retrospect, was not the worst place for it.

I cried while both men just stared at me with that expression — you know the one! — that says both, “I truly feel sorry for you” and “If I stare at you long enough, will you just stop crying? That would be amazing.”

And so then there were many weeks when basically no one came by at all, and if people came over they stood on a piece of tape on the stairs indicating where we were comfortable having them stand while wearing a mask while we stood in the doorway wearing a mask.

(Yes, there was a piece of tape on our stairs. It’s because one night a friend of ours came over with his girlfriend and my boyfriend went out to meet them and stood in the doorway and I thought they were too close and I screamed at him, “I am not going to die just because you’re too nice to ask anyone to stand on the lower stair,” and then we screamed at each other and didn’t speak for several days. The tape was there to ensure that this incident would just be a one-off.)

I knew the facts: that my chances of dying from Covid-19 were statistically low. But when I heard the news about overflowing waiting rooms in Spain and Italy, and patients not much older than me (I’m 50) left untreated because of lack of resources, along with the news, more staggering every day, that the United States was wholly unprepared for all this, I went into an unceasing, weekslong panic.

Meanwhile, cases in our rural mostly white county of about 100,000 were hovering near 40, with one death. I was forced to admit the terror I felt for my own safety was perhaps overblown and even selfish. The people getting sick were, for the most part, people who had to go to their jobs, or were in nursing homes, or were in jails and prisons and did not have the luxury of cowering in their bedrooms like me. Obviously I was at risk of getting Covid-19. We all are. But I couldn’t go on like this.

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