April 12, 2020
Sorry I missed your call yesterday.
First, my friend who hosted the Zoom Passover Seder brought me some matzoh ball soup. She set it down on my porch by the front door. Through the glass of the storm door, we pantomimed self-hugs and patted our own hearts to simulate the real hugs we wanted to exchange. We waved goodbye and I watched her drive off.
Next, I had to take Auntie to the store. Once again, we drove in a circle around West Baltimore, procuring the items she needed. First stop was the grocery store. I picked up a case of Cherry Cokes and a bag of white cheddar-flavored popcorn. I should have bought more salad, but I was on a tight budget, and I saw the popcorn first. Masked, gloved, 6 feet apart—it was fine. In the parking lot we breathed in the fresh, spring air and watched birds flitting freely across the sky. Then, we drove to a drug store. I stayed in the car, catching up on Facebook posts, while Auntie got what she needed.
Two hours later, I was back at home in Northeast Baltimore. You, dear Covid, were all over the news. To avoid thinking about you, I watched escapist television. A really bad sci-fi movie, followed by my all-time favorite disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow. I can recite the dialog along with the actors. But it’s the theme song that brings me to tears. A stirring, majestic song that I taught myself to play on piano…. but won’t. Can’t. Not right now. Music is still stuck—like the phlegm that clogged up my throat weeks ago—in my mind. I guess I’m afraid to cry, for fear I will never stop.
Then, I watched a documentary about Joe McCarthy. I learned that Congressional and Presidential treachery is nothing new. In fact, there are several pretty direct lines between McCarthyism and Trumpism. Sad…. The last program I watched was a documentary about The Ark Encounter, the Creationist theme park in Kentucky. One more human train wreck I didn’t need to witness….
Today is Easter Sunday. The strangest Easter I’ve ever experienced. On this evening’s news, there was a story about a shortage of baby chicks! At first, I thought it was a 21st century version of a late-1950s Easter fad. You see, when I was 5 years old, my aunt and uncle brought me a dozen baby chicks as an Easter present! At the time, my parents and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in West Baltimore. I loved the chicks’ chirping, but whenever I tried to pet them, they’d peck at my fingers, making me cry. The chicks didn’t stay long, and I grew up believing that they had died from living in their cardboard box sitting on our top of our living room radiator. My mother laughed when I recounted this sad fate to her decades later. She didn’t know where I’d gotten such a cruel story; in fact, the chicks had been taken to a farm to live out their lives. In contrast, today’s rush on baby chicks is meant to populate the yards of silly people, hoping to raise them to be egg-laying hens. If Mom were still here, she’d be laughing at that as hard as she laughed at me.
Hard to reconcile a spirit of rebirth with you, apocalyptic Covid-19, as you touch the lives of Facebook friends, as well as the rich and famous and the poor and downtrodden. So far, no one in my immediate world has been stricken, Thank God. But you are creeping ever closer. This year, Easter feels more like The Ten Commandments, with all ten plagues—plus you, Covid-19, scourging the Earth.
April 12, 2020