Where’s The Exit, I Want to Leave is an editorial entry written by Tim Clark and shared with The Ugly Writers under the theme Recovery for the month of March.
Where’s The Exit, I Want to Leave
It was unusual, at first. It was as if the world had taken a huge leap into a different time period, or maybe onto the set of a movie being remade for the nth time. A virus was rampaging all across the world, taking lives and ruining everything.
American elected officials were saying the wildest things. Senator Tom Cotton, from Arkansas, made the unsubstantiated claim that the virus had been manufactured and distributed intentionally. Our president couldn’t decide on which side he wanted to stake his claim, so he waffled back and forth from open alarm to hostile indifference.
It made for fascinating television. For a while. Now it is old. It was our anniversary in July, and I posted a picture of my wife and I on Facebook. It was an old, often posted picture, but, we haven’t managed a new photo in a while. For one thing we are both terrified of going out in public for something so menial as a haircut. We look like refugees from a Woodstock commune, long gray hair, wild out of control curls. When we put on tie dye it only adds to the surrealism.
And the virus is heating up. Gathering momentum. It moves through life, one terrible headline at a time. The novel coronavirus worms its way into everything with every new, terrible record; the most new infections, the highest number of deaths, the worst possible way to react. It’s hard to believe we were so ill prepared, so arrogant we never imagined it could happen in America.
It has reached the point of imaginary clairvoyance. When I’m afforded the opportunity to venture out in public, I can almost see the virus climbing on people. It glares at me from a socially acceptable distance of more than six feet. It is always clinging to people who aren’t wearing a face mask.Their toxic belligerence is plastered across the angry grimace smeared across their face, nobody is going to tell them what to do. Face mask are for sheeple.
It has gotten old. We have sheltered at home for so long a trip to the grocery store is a vacation. A short, frustrating vacation. Even today, with reports of food being destroyed by the truck load it can be impossible to find a decent green pepper, or a package of hot sausage. Your short, tiresome vacation can take you to several stores.
It is the only vacation we are going to get, too. Everything is in a state of suspended animation. We can go somewhere, but who knows what we’ll be able to do when we get there. It seems a little foolish to shelter at home somewhere else. Why spend the money to go somewhere and do nothing? We can do that right here?
On top of it all is the fear, the terrible anxiety eating away at you constantly, you might end up someplace that you shouldn’t and the virus will catch you. There is a line in Dispatches, by Micheal Herr, the story of his time as a journalist covering the war in Vietnam. A medic cautioned him about the importance of taking his antimalarial medicine, “a little yellow one everyday and a big blue one every week, and don’t miss a day! They got strains over here waste a heavy set fella like you.” That has become my North Star guiding me through life. Every time I hear someone talk about the vulnerability of people 60 and over I cringe. I cringe a lot. I’ve never been a big fan of coincidence and I certainly don’t want it punching my ticket to the great beyond.
Through it all is the question of what would have happened if someone had quieted the critics. If someone had taken this seriously? What if someone would have the fortitude to take the difficult steps to control this virus in the beginning? Would the summer be normal, at least livable? It’s a question that can be answered by looking at New Zealand, Germany, and others who followed the scientists, the doctors, the advice of the educated. I envy those people.
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