As an aging disc jockey with no show, I often think of headlines as song titles. This post should actually be called Homebound. Perhaps Paul Simon will compose a new song for the COVID-19 era. (Have you heard Neil Diamond’s rework of Sweet Caroline? “Hands, washing hands, reaching out, don’t touch me. I won’t touch you.” Oh my.)
After 40 years of working on radio and TV, dressing casually, dressing up, commuting twice a day for split shifts and remote broadcasts, I semi-retired in 2001. (Few broadcasters actually retire. I was “retired.”)
For nearly 20 years now, my work has been home-based. I do “live” announcing and voice recording in a small audio booth, occasionally host an educational cable TV program, and volunteer for a community group in San Diego.
Being “of a certain age” and saddled with “underlying health issues,” I realize how important it is to avoid the coronavirus. But as a stay-at-home husband, I’ve enjoyed food shopping, errands, walking, photography, and the freedom to come and go as I please.
I miss that, even though my wife – now also working from home – has long teased me about never wanting to leave the house, perfectly content watching the grass grow and the clouds drift by. As long as there’s music.
We are indeed fortunate – healthy, employed, comfortable (yard, deck, BBQ), grown sons, grandkids all surviving unimaginable life adjustments.
March to April seemed like six years, not weeks. Things once so important, enjoyable, and taken for granted as the decade dawned are replaced by avoiding strangers and celebrating toilet paper.
We swim in the murky waters of pandemic news. It’s painful to open our eyes, but important to stay current. Information, misinformation, red states, blue states, forecasts, guesses – it blasts us like a firehose.
Personally, I trust experts who say, “we really don’t know.”
“Doubt is not a pleasant condition. But certainty is absurd,” as Voltaire once said.
TV’s nightly display of smartphone video from health workers reviewing their job and their day is uplifting, devastating, heartwarming, and heartbreaking.
Eventually, we turn it off and watch M*A*S*H reruns. Radar, Hawkeye, et al, dealt with everything we’re facing now, and still made us giggle.
Personally, I am thankful to live in a state that took decisive action to slow the killing. We are sacrificing. But if polling is accurate, people shouting “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” are a minority.
Our Governor holds fast to important aspects of social distancing, while gradually allowing things like surfing and jogging. So far, San Diegans are responding appropriately.
Again, I know our family is fortunate. Not for a moment do I discount the extreme financial and emotional hardships faced by owners of small businesses, renters who can’t pay, and workers whose jobs may never come back. It is a true disaster.
But the air is cleaner. And the waters. People are more neighborly, and neighbors more friendly. Past stresses seem petty now. We’re driving less (too damn fast, but less).
The pandemic is a giant slap in the face. Complacency is not a crime, but maybe it should be.
We believed the United States was the best, strongest, smartest nation in the world – a compassionate leader, champion of democracy.
Slowing down, being homebound tricks us into mirror-gazing far more than tie-straightening. Unmasked, we don’t see the person we used to be. But we might find the one we want to be.
In our lives, in our country, we have time to re-evaluate our priorities. I hope some changes are for good.