Circumstance of Quarantine

We bought our current home in April of last year and within 11 months–in response to the COVID-19 pandemic–quarantine orders were issued across the state. OK–not quarantine proper, per se, but a shelter-in-place directive amounting to the same thing.

Even though deemed an essential business, we went to an online presence in lieu of print. We went to the grocery store much less frequently, went to the bank only with a true clutch of checks, and ventured into the post office during the lunch hour, when its counter is closed. Basically, we stayed home.

In the house we had purchased not a year earlier.

This proved to be more than doable. We live in a mostly unvisited cul-de-sac surrounded by genuinely nice neighbors. Circumstances that would be curmudgeonly of me to say are daunting.

And not only that: we actually selected this house. We like its pool, its yard, and the fact that the entire upstairs comprises the master bedroom. The same cannot be said for our three previous homes, rentals, none of which we chose. These were, rather, foisted upon us by circumstance. Like returning from Mexico with more kids than we could shoehorn into our original home, a house we bought back in 1987. Like a landlord-caused house fire and, if you can believe it, an eviction that left us less than a handful of days to land elsewhere.

It’s circumstance I’d like to address. How, for instance, would we have fared during quarantine in any of our previous abodes?

Fairly well, I like to think–except for the place we vacated last year. The one fire forced us to settle for. Forget quarantine: the neighbors were horrible even during the best of times. On our left was a lady who liked to call the police when our son played music in the afternoon. She called so often, in fact, that the police told her they would not be coming again. Then there was the piece of work on our right. We collectively nicknamed her Happy. In today’s parlance–politically correct or otherwise–Happy would be called a Karen. Literally, she believed she owned the street in front of her house. It exasperated and finally infuriated her whenever one of us parked there. Once, after I had parked on our driveway, she came silently up behind me and started yelling at a distance of three feet.

“Do I have to call the police to get you people to stop parking there?” she shouted, flinging a dramatic arm at an empty patch of asphalt.

“Yes,” I said, “I think you should.”

I also like to think we would have acquitted ourselves well in Cabo San Lucas, where we lived for five years in the nineties. Home was the shoreline along Santa Maria Bay, a veritable paradise until Montage Los Cabos got its mitts on it. Google that, check out the pictures and imagine what it would otherwise look like pristine. Thank Christ we were not present to witness the desecration.

But I think things might not have been so rosy in our original 1987 home. We had four kids by the time we left for Cabo in 1994. A pandemic is no time to be a young parent, and my heart goes out to those who are now.

Still, circumstance is not entirely living situation. It’s outlook, frame of mind, while quarantine–a foxhole–is endurance. And now that we may likely return to lockdown, I hope you have good people in your foxhole.

I always have.


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