Coronavirus Diaries: Week Sixteen

June 13

My husband is a triathlete, so our summer weekends are usually packed with races, but this year, all the races have been cancelled or turned into online events. One such event, the Grand Rapids Tri, which my husband has participated in for at least the last five years, is allowing their entrants any day in June to compete virtually. Chris chose today.

He changed his event from the full tri to a duathalon, since we don’t have a lake or a pool nearby. So instead of swim, bike run, it’s run, bike, run: 10K followed by a 50-mile bike ride, followed by another 10K.

Our neighborhood is conveniently in a half-mile circle, so he used that as his location for his event today.

So instead of waking up at dawn, packing the car full with his wet suit, his bike, and all his other provisions, waiting for the honk of the start time on the hill of Thornapple River, standing around for 45 minutes, getting dizzy trying to catch the faces of the people coming out of the water, mistakenly identifying my husband a number of times, nearly missing him as he runs right by me into transition, frantically trying to find him coming out of transitions, followed by more waiting around until the whole thing repeats itself two more times–instead of all that, Amelia and I made chalk pictures in the driveway and waved to Chris every 3 minutes he came around the circle.

Best race ever, in my opinion.

June 15

Our library opened for curbside service today. I went in to open and I worked until close. I got 12,000 steps on my fitbit. The holds on the shelves waiting to be picked up were stuffed to capacity and even overflowed to the next wall and to the back of a bookcase. I have never seen so many holds in my life.

We were all worried about people making snarky comments about the building not being open, but I heard nothing negative whatsoever. Only people who were happy and grateful to have physical materials back in their hands (or at least in their trunks). So many smiles.

June 16

Our governor allowed restaurants to reopen last weekend with certain restrictions in place. I think Amelia has missed eating out more than Chris or me. Whenever we go to pick up food, she asks “can we eat it there?” And the answer up to now has been no.

And even though some dining rooms are open now, the answer will probably still be no for some time. Why chance it?

There is one exception. Chris and my favorite restaurant downtown is a tiki bar that only opened in the fall. We’ve been doing our part during Covid to help keep them in business, ordering takeout from them multiple times. Now that their dining room was open, we wanted to support them some more. So after work, my mother-in-law stayed later than normal and Chris and I got to go on a date.

Half the tables were missing in the restaurant, and about half of the tables that were there were full. We were seated against a wall, and we kept our masks on until our drinks arrived. It all felt rather safe.

For not going out on a date for half a year, we went a little overboard. We ordered three things to share and five drinks between us and even sprung for the bonfire dessert where they bring you a little bucket of fire and you get to roast your own marshmallows. It was extremely indulgent and delicious and fun.

After dinner, in an effort to help our full stomachs digest, we went for a walk around the city. It was the first I had seen it in months, the first I saw it after the riots. A lot of windows were boarded over. It was unsettling to see. But also, a lot of those boards had beautiful artwork painted on them.

Maybe Jonathan Larson was right. The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.

June 19

In addition to restaurants being open, salons and barbers are now open, too. I had already botched my bangs early during the lockdown, and they have since grown out to touch my nose yet again. With hot weather on the horizon, I desperately needed to shed some inches off my heat helmet known as my hair. Chris suggested that I get a massage at the salon, since I’m going anyhow. So I signed up for that, too.

The salon took many precautions. I checked in from outside via text, and they texted me when it was all right to come in and where to go. My massage was first, and my masseuse had a serious mask on, one with a filter, not just a cloth mask. When I got my hair cut, both me and my stylist kept our masks on the whole time. I didn’t see anyone not wearing a mask. I’m not sure they were even letting people in who weren’t wearing masks.

It all felt relatively safe.

That’s what I keep saying, isn’t it? It all feels safe. I guess that’s the main problem right now–everyone is getting a little too comfortable. But this isn’t over yet. Cases are still popping up. Covid isn’t yet gone. And I was in a crowded place for an hour, where, yeah, everyone had masks on, but was that really enough?

I don’t know.