Circles of Care - Journal entry by Gary Newton

One of the All Souls Circles of Care collectively decided to start a journal as an email chain message, and Gary Newton, one of its members, wrote on May 17th: Hello Circle: My wife and I have been here in Portland, Maine since March 16.  For two months now we’ve been renting an apartment, laying low, going out once a week for groceries, walking almost daily, otherwise, staying in. A few random observations from our time here: Other than Saturdays, days have a sameness.  Saturdays I get to take out the trash. We seniors get special early entry privileges at the supermarket, so, from 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. the store’s filled with wheezing geezers careening around the aisles in search of kelp and kale and Mucinex -- or was it MiraLax?  A re-boot of the TV game show Supermarket Sweep fit for this annus horribilis.   Friends dropped off a homemade quiche for us one evening.  Left it on the porch, retreated to their car and called us to say it was sitting there.  I scurried out like a rat to snatch it.  Broke a wine glass and freaked-out over the possibility of lacerating my foot on an un-broomed shard and having to go to the ER and sit among a waiting room full of folks at peak infectivity. We instituted a new corona virus protection policy: No wine glasses. Drink only from the bottle. Found myself thinking about: The 1961 song by Hugh Barrett and The Victors, There Was Fungus Among Us with its sing-song refrain, Which one is the fungus? The song’s not quite so ridiculous in retrospect.  Is there -- should there be -- a song, There Was Virus Beside Us?    The last time physical distance was prescribed was at junior high school dances.  The Deputy Principle (for Discipline) surveilled the dance floor.  When adolescents got too close, she intervened.  Believe she introduced some sort of tool -- a ruler? -- between the rule breaking couple to de-couple them to a “safe” distance.     How on my 60th birthday there was no way I would have envisioned a 70th birthday celebrated on a “platform” called Zoom with family arrayed on a laptop screen like so many pundits on CNN, my dear sister and brother-in-law frozen in their little box throughout the “party" due to weak WiFi. How it feels like we’re in a witness protection program, hiding from the virus and hiding from Mainers who think we already have it and want us to get the hell out of The Pine Tree State. Maybe we should ask for sanctuary as virus refugees at the UU church in Portland?  Being triaged into the “NO VENT” tent at the far end of a Walmart parking lot by a Grim Reaper in the form of a nurse wearing a used face mask from a vets office and a trash bag. (I had this bleak fantasy in March when we got here.  Gone now.) Cheers, Gary

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