Plague Diary IV

I get dressed when I get up in the morning. I brush my teeth, wash my face, do my Tai Chi forms, and check my email (just to delete the dross). Then, while I fix breakfast, I watch “Leave it to Beaver.” This is a recent activity as I no longer feel comfortable spreading the newspaper out in order to scan the contents while I eat. In fact, we’ve discontinued newspaper delivery in favor of a digital subscription but I have deep fears about the possible effects of dripping egg and toast crumbs on my computer. So I tune into the “Beav.”

I marvel at June Cleaver’s ensembles, the clothes she wears for housework: clever day dresses and pearls, heels. I’m awestruck by the engineering feat of her perfectly coiffed hair. She stores her groceries directly into kitchen cabinets. and refrigerator. There are no masks, no gloves involved and food remains in their original containers. (She does don a frivolous half-apron in which to cook.) Life is easy at the Cleaver’s, and the show drowns out the sound of ambulances.

Having grown up in similar circumstances, I never aspired to such a life. I wanted adventure, noise, grit. So I’ve enjoyed my life in the city. I may be a “small fish in a big pond,” but I’ve had the opportunity to know some of the best and brightest, to see some of the world. I’ve failed many things but never regretted taking the risk.

Still, during this time of quarantine, one thing I didn’t think I’d long for is the subway. But I miss the ride. I miss the drummers and the Mariachi band, and the pole dancers who high-five an old lady. I miss watching fellow travelers, the comradely of a late train. I miss losing myself in a playlist of my own devising while traveling to other neighborhoods.

My playlists are now motivation for yoga (warier stances to “Country Joe and the Fish”), which I do in lieu of climbing up and down subway stairs, and walking…Short walks in the neighborhood are divided between views of spring blossoms and the stand of National Guard at the community center; tulips and daffodils versos frightened people in masks and rubber gloves.

I spend a pleasant half hour in Beaumont with the Cleavers then turn them off. Time slips by while I go nowhere, but there are still adventures to be had, in books and imagination, with friends that are more than virtual; with the memory of a young woman who can apply makeup perfectly on a moving train, a boy who can woo a girl in the presence of a crowd of strangers.

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