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January 29, 2023

Window on the World Column | Covid — Year 2

By Lucy Jensen, Soledad Columnist

They said it would all be gone by now; it would have just been blown away like an errant feather — a dark memory from the archives of 2020. The last Christmas holidays, that should have been spent in my hometown on the English East Coast, now but a memory of all things lost and canceled by Covid during that dastardly year past. But here we are in the second year of restrictions, also known in some regions as “Panda” (a sweet name for pandemic), with intensive care units still taking over hospital gift shops and refrigerated trailers a lingering memory from last summer and continuing to occupy real estate in the parking lots of law enforcement the country over.

I was chatting to my friend in England and glad to hear that all the elderlies in her family have now been vaccinated. There is a tier system in place over there of summoning people for their turn and stadiums and pharmacies are lined up to do their part in the coming days. We hope for that here. In the meantime, my daughter is a front-line medical worker and has not even received her first vaccine. My husband is vulnerable health-wise without a shot in sight, and I shall be somewhere at the end of the line right before the teenagers. I’m not complaining, but someone in authority did tell us that Covid would just disappear a long time ago and that could not be further from the truth.

We are used to being free to make plans and enjoy times together. We are not a solitary breed, accustomed to staying in our houses and only dealing with folk in our bubble. Some of us are very used to traveling freely across the world and planning an entire year of adventures right at the beginning of each year. My friends and I are incessantly slotting in the next trip and marking calendars. My finger is always ready to book the next flight, indulge in hotel perusing and sights to see, places to go. It has seldom been enough for me to just stay in one place and be happy with my lot. I’m a gypsy at heart; probably always will be; likely how I ended up here, a long way from home.

But year two of Covid, with no end in sight, has forced me to be happier with my lot; to not plan every, single thing. I am at the will of the scientists and the clever medical folks — also the vaccine planners — who will devise the correct plan for our State and my family in due course. They told us it would be easy; it’s not. It was my baby sister’s 51st birthday (forever 48). I had planned a trip to a special beach in her honor, a place where I could also chat to my Mum and visit with the cormorants and pelicans — and occasionally the odd seal, otter or whale.

I had the whole day aligned, even down to my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant after my beach walk. It was all going along swimmingly, that it is until I forgot to check the tides and the King Tide explosion on this particular shoreline meant that there was little to no beach to walk upon and hardly a stick of driftwood to collect. I made my solitary pilgrimage along the ravaged sand, enjoying the shrieks of children playing in the surf and people picnicking on the sand.

My favorite dish at my favorite place was not to be had. They had obviously got tired of the opening-closing-half-opening of the past 10 months and decided to heck with it, we’ll just take a vacation and wait until restaurants can behave like restaurants again. We were starving and found a Thai restaurant open for take-out. That would have to do. Shop local and all. We picnicked in/out of the truck and it was decent. I like a little bit of noodles with some seafood. Nowhere near the divine salivation of my favorite crab enchiladas, but there you go again with the Covid-disappoint factor, ever present in our regular lives and likely to remain so for a while.

My husband’s aunt Marvel died in her sleep. We are all a bit of a flutter, because she had wanted to be buried with her husband George in Watsonville. She passed in Los Angeles and how the heck were we going to give her a proper send-off? How can you gather during Covid and do the normal respectful nods to a life well-lived when no one is allowed to gather and grieve and hug? I had heard that a gathering of five at a funeral is all you can do. Hers was a family of many more than that. Generations of beloveds of that funny little lady who would want to say their farewells. Maybe we will have to have a lottery of who gets to go, or we just Zoom and no one gets to go? I haven’t the faintest idea.

One of my favorite transatlantic airlines just sent me an email that they would no longer be doing the long-haul flights, San Francisco to London. They owed me a flight from the one they canceled last May. That may be going the way of all the lost plans and broken dreams from 2020, now spilling over into 2021. The sad fall-out of one business after another, unable to survive in year two of this Crazy-Corona world. But they said it would all have gone away by now; business would be booming again and everything back better than ever. I think they lied.

My father, on the Isle of Man, told me that they are back on lockdown again. They had a delightful six months of Covid-free living from summer to winter, but then the blessed virus showed up again on their island to remind everyone that moving freely is not free and it comes at quite a price these days. Dad is 91 and still has no idea when he will be receiving his vaccine. I think the world is in for a bit of a rollercoaster before anything really improves on our planet and life post-Covid can resemble anything close to life before we even knew what a “Covid-Panda” was.

It’s a bugger’s muddle, as Granny would say. This “Panda” will teach us a few things about a few things, that is for sure. Let’s hope by year three, the promises of the high-level people will come to fruition and we, the people, can embrace our freedoms once more, as we are all desperate to do.


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