The juxtaposition between my life these past two weeks and the world very much around me is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. I thank God for that. And, currently, I think that is all I can do.
To begin with, my wife and I are still employed. In the past two weeks, according to news reports, 10 million people in the United States have lost their jobs and have filed for unemployment. So the fact that my wife and I currently get to wake up and conduct our jobs from our homes is something I recognize with much thanksgiving.
Second: as far as I know, only one person I know has the virus (one of my wife’s colleagues whom I’ve met); but, otherwise, no one else: not my parents, who are in their 70s, not my wife’s parents, also in their 70s, not any of my close friends, not any of their parents, not any of my colleagues, not any of my children’s friends and their families. It is very likely that someone in that diverse group I just mentioned has the virus and is not showing symptoms (as I could be) because when I look at a national map of the outbreak and see a huge red circle around the part of the country in which we live, I find it extraordinary that I know just one person who is infected. For that, I am also very thankful.
Third, we moved within Stratford about seven years ago, from a modest starter home in a great neighborhood to a larger house with a larger yard in a quieter part of town near a 300-acre forest. We have always really liked our new(ish) home, but would often reminisce (and with some regret) about the old neighborhood, which had sidewalks and neighbors who were always outside and an annual block party and, for me, four other guys with whom I would play music with in one of my neighbor’s basements which he had outfitted to resemble a combination of a music studio and Irish pub. I do miss all of that sometimes.
But if I had to choose between being essentially quarantined in either that house or this one I would choose this one, easy. The backyard, during this period of time, has become a sanctuary: it is long and flat, perfect for kicking the soccer ball around or throwing a Frisbee. We have a small blacktop area with a basketball hoop. There are two gardens, and a tire swing in the front yard. If it is time we are faced with killing then we have numerous things to help us not only kill the time but enjoy it. And that’s outside. Inside we have a TV-less living room filled with books and an upright piano (which just got tuned) and my acoustic guitar and a south-facing window through which I can see the purple buds of a rhododendron bush in our front yard. Downstairs, in the family room, are dozens of board games and the TV (with Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime) and lots of kids’ toys and bins upon bins of Legos. Then there’s an office area which affords us an environment to concentrate and be productive. In the basement there’s a workout area, and a musical space replete with drums and keyboard and my electric guitar; there’s a pool table and a foosball table.
Then there’s the forest that is just a short walk away. That, too, has been a place of respite of late. We’ve hiked there numerous times since we’ve left school, and I’ve returned to mountain-biking, going there for at least an hour-long ride the past three days. The days do not drag.
When I pause from riding in the woods and sit on a rock and hear silence, I feel guilty for enjoying my time at home when life for so many people is chaotic and terrifying. Not far from here, the photographs I see and the stories I read, depict a sort of Hell on Earth. Even going to the local grocery store, which I’ve only done twice, hints at scenes we imagine from an apocalypse; people wearing gloves and donning masks while picking out vegetables.
We are being directed to stay home, and I am so thankful that I am okay with that. I can do that. I can stay home and be safe. And I I pray for those who today have to go to work at a hospital. Please, God, guide and protect them. Thank you.