It has been quite some time since I’ve posted in this space. My day job which often rides on a crazy all-over-the-place schedule has taken over much of my life the past handful of months and like all of you, gotta pay them bills. The all over the place nature, both by time and geography, isn’t exactly a great environment for writing. These days the workload is far less, in fact its pretty much non-existent. Instead of doing 4 cities in three time zones in one week I’m in one city. In one immediate local area. In one neighborhood, mostly on one piece of property for the foreseeable future. It’s the end of March as I write this and the reality that I’ll be in this same exact spot in the same exact situation a month from now is jarring. The possibility that two months from now I’ll have not been able to leave due to the ongoing global pandemic is something I’ve not yet been able to wrap my head around. Anything beyond that and the battle of hope & impending reality results in a nuclear explosion in my mind.
This is my 13th day of Coronavirus captivity. Physically I feel good and have not shown any signs of symptoms, for this I’m grateful. I’ve not yet had a loved one come down with the virus, for this I am also incredibly grateful. I’m hunkered down in Dallas where I split time throughout the year with Boston when I’m not out on the road. Before I got inside the DFW the road is where I was. I manage promotional tours for products of all kinds. I was in week three of this particular six week tour when due to the growing pandemic of Covid-19 we were shut down while in Phoenix for the Ostrich Festival. I was excited for the event. Amped to see Saturday night headliner Blues Traveler, a favorite band from the old college days. I haven’t seen them live in at least ten years. The streak unfortunately continues.
The weekend prior I was in Charleston, S.C. for their Food & Wine festival. A wonderfully run event. The grounds Packed with gleefully intoxicated guests. A sold out affair. A highlight of the region social calendar. The Saturday night of the festival I received a mass email from the event organizer. The email notified us that the the first case of the virus had popped up in Charleston. Didn’t really seem to phase anyone in the historic southern city. From what I could tell people just used a bit more hand sanitizer and continued on their merry ways. That was the first week of March. There are now over 125 cases of Covid-19 in Charleston. When I arrived in Minneapolis back in the 3rd week in February to start the tour there were still not even 20 confirmed cases of the virus throughout the entire country. As I’m writing this there are now over 200,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. with over 4,000 confirmed deaths.
Along the drive from Charleston to Phoenix a handful of our upcoming west coast retail events were cancelled due to the virus. After stopping in Las Cruces, NM for a night on the way to Phoenix I had gotten word that the Oakland Marathon Expo had been cancelled due to the rising virus related health crisis throughout California. On that drive through the beautiful and somewhat barren trek along I-10 from Las Cruces to Phoenix the reality of what the next number of weeks would be began to settle in. It was on that drive that I would learn of all the sporting event cancellations and postponements. The concerts & events of spring were dropping like flies. To hear the news of the country slowly shutting down amidst the landscape of the American southwest gave birth to apocalyptic visions in my mind. Crazy visuals…and not the fun kind. That night in Phoenix, after I settled in at the hotel and got some work out of the way, I decided it was time to grab grub. With the pandemic slipping from my mind for a few moments I did a quick search of spots nearby to grab a quick bite & a beer. I found a cool looking sports bar a short ride away. Just as I was about to order my Lyft it dawned on me that there were no sports to watch. I envisioned myself at this sports bar with no sports to watch. I saw myself sitting at the bar just staring at my phone. I ordered pizza delivery instead.
The severity of the virus had not yet been fully grasped in Arizona by the time I got there. Social distancing had been recommended, panic shopping had occurred and schools were just starting to close but restaurants and bars were not closed. I went to a breakfast spot next to my hotel my first morning there and the place was pretty packed. Later that day the festival we were there for was cancelled and we were told to start heading back to Minneapolis to return all the assets before departing for our corner of the country to hunker down for the foreseeable future.
The drive back to Minneapolis was eerie as the news grew more grim by the mile. Restaurants along the way began to just offer take out or drive through or just deciding to close all together. The parking lot of my hotel near the airport in Minneapolis seemed exceptionally empty. When I checked in I asked how many guests they had. The answer was shocking. The answer was six. SIX. A nice modern Hilton brand hotel pretty much right around the corner from a pretty good sized American city’s airport had just six guests in it. SIX. My flight to Dallas wasn’t much different. MSP airport was quiet. The line for security was non-existent. There were eight passengers total on my flight. EIGHT. Including the pilots & crew I don’t think the total number of people on the flight hit the teens. Incredibly unbelievable times.
Now I’m in Dallas for the pandemic. In lockdown. Fortunately the weather is good, warm. I’m not alone as I’m sharing the residence with a long time friend and three dogs. Usually when I swing through here I tend to chill at the house with the dogs anyway. I enjoy the relaxing nature of my existence here as its such a sharp contrast to the hectic days I spend out on tour and even the frequent work schedule I hold in Boston. Usually I’m able to break up the time at the Dallas house with adventures out at bars with friends or a movie & TopGolf with my cousin or a late night rendezvous with a local lover. Now it’s a huge thing to get out to the grocery store or take the dogs for a walk. The dog walks are relaxing. The grocery store runs stressful. The friend I’m down here with has a number of underlying medical issues. She’s what we call “medically compromised” in the days of Covid-19. If she got the virus it would not be pretty. Another friend of mine in Michigan also has a number of medical issues. She has the virus. She was hospitalized for it. She was sent home. The hospital said she’d be safer at home. Can you believe that? In the 21st century in the United States doctors think its safer for a patient with a deadly virus to be home rather than under the direct care of medical professionals in a hospital.
I’m here in Dallas. You’re where you are. We’re all locked down. If not by local government order than by societal nuances or by fear of getting & spreading Covid-19. One way or another we’re all in this together. One way or another, one day we’ll all be on the other side of this pandemic able to talk to each other in person. Able to share an experience together. Able to once again share life together. Until that time comes stay safe, stay clean, stay at home, stay vigilant.