Some of us are more feral than others. We’ve little to no tolerance for cages- even if they are relatively well-appointed cages with running water, cable and are stocked with snacks. We are most happy when we can roam freely.
Being quarantined does not amuse us.
Which is not to say that we don’t take the pandemic seriously, or that we are by nature anarchists who believe that we were born with an inalienable right to whatever we want whenever we want, everyone else be damned.
I, for instance, will not be taking over my State Capital with an assault rifle because, well, that’s pretty simian.
Born to Roam
No, in fact I have, to the best of my ability to do so, willingly complied with requests from learned, lucid people of science, done my best to educate myself and stayed home for the last six weeks while wearing a mask when I did make necessary trips out. I have washed my hands and maintained safe social distances from friends and strangers alike. I have not hugged nor shook hands.
What I am saying, though, is that fish have to swim, and bears have to roam and eat blackberries. I too need to roam, and with the lifting of restrictions around the country, I, like many others, have begun to think, and even plan for that day when we can head out into the great wide open.
When I do head out, I very much plan to exercise the same deference to those coherent people of science. I will seriously consider their warnings and suggestions. I’ll plan my travel, and activities when I’m gone, with the same care and caution as I’ve exercised in being quarantined over the last six weeks.
There are problems, however. When and how will I know that it’s safe to go? Who can I trust to give me the objective information I require in order to make enlightened decisions?
My Plan for Going Over the Wall
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of foolish people out there passing along dangerous information and/or suggestions. Any plan contemplating flight needs to be predicated upon reliable information from intelligent people.
So I start by reading the experts, what do they say? Is it reasonably safe to go?
From them I gather the answer depends, in large part, on testing performed to date. The problem is, according to Caitlin Rivers, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, gauging the scale of the Covid-19 situation, at the present time, depends in large part on expanded national testing and there is no accurate nor sufficient testing program, nor data from any such program.
Ms. Rivers stated in testifying to Congress Wednesday, (5/12/20), “If this work has been done, I have not seen it, and I fear that neither have the governors and other state and local leaders who are having to make decisions about how and when to reopen.”
In The Atlantic, in a piece entitled There’s One Big Reason the U.S. Economy Can’t Reopen, Samantha Montano, an emergency-management professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha is quoted as saying that:
[T]he White House blueprint to reopen the country does not have anything like the level of detail that state and local governments need to continue life-saving operations while adjusting social-distancing measures. “It doesn’t tell you how to do any of those things,” she said. “At best it tells you what your goals are, but it does not tell you how to achieve those goals.”
She says she’s been mystified at how many politicians have started to signal that recovery from the pandemic has begun: “It’s a little ridiculous to watch, because it’s a little like a city trying to do reentry in the middle of the eye of a storm.”
So what to do? For those who must travel, whether it be for work, self-care or even pleasure, how does one proceed in a sensible manner?
Subsequent to research and reflection, I’ve made the following decisions.
For now, I will only travel between my home and places which I know to be, to a reasonable degree, safe; places I have personally vetted.
I’ve traveled, since 2013, using AIR Bnb, almost exclusively. I use Air Bnb, as opposed to a hotel, because travel has been, for me, for a long time means of self-care. My domestic partner and I care for two sons who live with schizophrenia. As with other similarly situated persons, this caregiving is stressful and sometimes difficult. As with many caregivers, our sons reply upon us exclusively for care. For that reason, it’s important that we care for one and other so we can be fully present for our sons.
My primary form of self-care is short trips away from home. I’ve found over the years that I get the most benefit by finding a place I like, where I’m comfortable. There’s little comfort in a hotel room’s ubiquitous four white walls.
Instead, I look for clean healthy quiet homes with kind positive hosts who understand my family’s situation. Once I find a place I go back. Over the years, I’ve stayed in some places as many as 4-5 separate times. Some of the hosts, and I, have become friends.
Which is why, for now, I’m restricting my travel to these familiar safe houses.
When traveling, I will also only stay in safe houses which are within a day’s drive of my home. In this way, I’ll avoid the general public.
I will also only travel to states and communities which currently have lesser rates of Covid-19 then my home state/community.
When on the road, I’ll stop only as much as necessary and I’ll limit my contact with the public. I’ll bring food to eat on the road avoiding restaurants and I’ll pay at the pump without going into the station.
Once I reach the safe house, I’ll practice the same precautions I do home.
Specifically, I’ll begin by staying with K, a host who has put me up four or five times in the past. She has a home which resembles a small mountain lodge, is very comfortable and which sits literally atop a mountain in the Appalachians.
My reasonably priced room comes with full kitchen privileges and comfortable seating on a porch overlooking an adjacent mountain range.
In this way I’ll be able to safely decompress while writing, cooking, meditating, cooking and reading.
I’ll continue to keep my eyes and ears open and I’ll monitor actual, as opposed to self-proclaimed and self-serving experts. Under all circumstances I’ll also continue to ignore any advice coming from the White House and/or other similarly deluded political types.
The truth seems to be that we’re stuck with this hateful condition for some time. It doesn’t seem to be hyperbole to say that our lives- to some degree- may never be the same again. We are all going to be forced to craft new lives, in as meaningful and intelligent a manner as possible.
This is my start-what’s your plan?