EVERYONE HAS A STORY - Week Three
March 14th – March 20th
THE FIRST PUNCH
I was impressed with everything we had managed to accomplish in two short weeks, but reality landed and landed hard. It started with a directive from my niece and nephew, made in my best interest of course, that I had made my last visit to the grocery store, shopping center, coffee shops and gift stores. I was not allowed to leave the house except for walks, pools in both communities were off limits to me and their daughter. Days would be spent inside in self-imposed quarantine, and play dates would all be virtual. Walks were allowed, as long as we kept the social distancing suggestion of six feet apart from other walkers. Watching Netflix and TV was to be minimal, if possible, and once Spring Break was over, home schooling would begin. Hawaii closed all schools until further notice, and I would have to do my best to absorb the role of teacher. But, I could do kindergarten -no sweat. My nephew’s mother was a Godsend, Face Timing every morning for an hour, which gave me time to catch up on my emails and phone calls. All plans for the Luau, dinner at sunset at the Four Seasons and Mother’s Day – cancelled. It was doubtful my daughter would be able to visit, but I resisted the urge to cancel her plane reservation until it was absolutely necessary.
During the little one’s free time, when she spent time playing with her American Girl dolls, I managed to write the first chapters of my third novel, MIRACLE. It wasn’t because I fancied myself a writer that had to share her genius with a a world of readers, but I needed to stay productive, have something to show for my upcoming weeks, maybe months, in quarantine. I had to return home with something tangible as well as intangible. I changed my release date of KEEP FOREVER from April 30th as scheduled, to March 28th. There would be no Launch Party back home, and everything would be put in motion virtually. Thankfully, I had prepared well for the release before I left, and it was a simple matter of tying up a few loose ends with my marketing and social media platforms. Planning a virtual launch also gave me something to do – productive - the operative word that drives me.
Spring Break became a week of uniformity, resembling little of the plans we had made to enjoy the Island from a child’s point of view. All reservations that we were all looking forward to, cancelled, all visits to the community pool where we would soon all be living, scrapped, all trips to ice cream shops, the beach, tourist attractions, in our rear-view. My niece and nephew had jobs that kept them away from the house for normal hours most days, but suddenly their work was on overload, their days were 10-12 hours long, and we seldom ate dinner together anymore. In two short weeks, the world shifted, and their government jobs went into high gear. Even when they were home, both their phones rang constantly, like they had never left the workplace.
It didn’t make any difference that I wanted to return home before the airports closed for good, or if I should even consider that option. By this time, no one had any idea how long the virus would have a chokehold on our world, and I struggled for days with this decision. Going back home would mean leaving my niece without a tether at a time when they needed one most. My adult daughter was capable of taking care of herself, my son was safe with his wife in another state, and my house would be standing when I returned, no matter when that might be. My son was adamant I keep myself out of harm’s way, public places, airports and airplanes. Afterall, I was considered to be high risk, and leaving early could do more harm than good. I cancelled my original return flight for April 23rd, but kept my original return date of May 31st for the second trip I had arranged. That should give me plenty of leeway for this devil to run its course, right?
It was during this week that the Governor of Hawaii asked all the tourists to go home and directed all the hotels, resorts, and restaurants to shutter their premises. Living so close to one of the most sought-after destinations in Ko Olina during our temp housing situation, I had embraced the hustle and bustle, the beautifully lit hotels at night, and the lagoons teeming with tourists. It was a picture postcard, and even the greeters that waved us in and out of the gates, dressed in themed uniforms from Moana and other Disney characters, would soon disappear with all the other hotel personnel. The only people who remained onsite, were landscape maintenance crews who, thankfully, were allowed to continue grooming the massive golf course and acres of well manicured grounds.
The evening walk I took by myself after the mandatory orders, was heartbreaking. I perched on one of the hills of the golf course, overlooking a pond and a view of all the hotels. No lights were lit in any of the guest rooms. No cars were moving back and forth on the main entrance road. All restaurants were vacant and lonely. It was sobering and sickening that all of this could occur so quickly. As I sat, the Bette Midler song ‘From a Distance” kept playing in my head. “God is watching us…from a distance.” Humanity was suddenly, and without notice, thrown into a tailspin of epic proportions. Or maybe it wasn’t without notice. Maybe too many of us were not listening.
I learned that six-year old wisdom is endless, and sometimes more insightful than mine.
Walks saved me from boredom and gave normalcy to the situation unfolding.
My siblings, two younger, two older but all seniors, were safe and well, isolated in their own cities, but handling the situation. Everyone I knew, children, relatives, friends, co-workers were all safe and healthy.