A Muddled Response To COVID-19 From The Swamps

CROCODILE & SNAKE. A crocodile of Surinam attempting to devour a snake. Line engraving, c1705, by Maria Sibylla Merian.

I have a friend experiencing the excitement of a new relationship with a thoughtful partner she’s very fond of. We were texting earlier tonight when she suggested a trip between the two of them and Roy and I. My heart leaped.

I began brainstorming with excitement where we would go.

Then I remembered the pandemic.

The other day I was walking around the neighborhood peacefully lost in my thoughts when a stranger suddenly appeared wearing sunglasses and a medical paper mask in 90-degree heat.

I remembered the pandemic.

Although my husband and I were wed in a civil ceremony, we planned to host a larger gathering of friends and family in December. He was supposed to head to his bachelor party next weekend. I was headed overseas for my own reunion with friends next month. Both trips are no longer happening.

The wedding invites I ordered earlier this month arrived in the mail. Today I designed a note to assure our guests we are monitoring the pandemic and fully prepared to cancel the event for the safety of our loved ones, check the website for any updates.

Monitoring the pandemic.

How does one monitor a pandemic exactly? Do you count by the number of masks you see in public on any given day? The layoffs resulted? The total number of those who get sick? And what of the 120,000 people in the US that have already died?

Earlier I told another friend that being in Florida today feels like living on several different timelines. Orange County where I live has had a mask mandate for weeks. The county 15 miles north of me is still protesting one.

Much like the Western world experienced an entirely separate timeline against the virus than Wuhan, counties across Florida (and I will assume much of the country) now feel like they’re operating in completely different worlds, too.

The public perception towards COVID-19’s threat varies mile to mile stressing the political and ideological canyons that exist from person to person.

I am trying to navigate all of them as responsibly as I can. And I’m tired.

There’s no cohesive message from federal or state leadership to consider. And Americans are too entitled to inconvenience themselves for the sake of the greater good. We’ve known this.

I myself spent the last weekend in Jacksonville in an impromptu-reunion between my cousins, my mom, my aunt and my grandma. My grandma returned from being stuck in Central America for a month longer than originally planned for her vacation due to shutdowns. After her following time in quarantine, we were just excited, I guess, to finally see her.

I am embarrassed to admit we held this reunion now but Florida was “re-opening” — whatever that meant — after two months of lockdown. Restaurants and salons invited customers back, bars followed until they recently closed again and life was returning to… well, not normal but something.

Meanwhile, the state of Florida just documented 10,109 new cases of Coronavirus breaking earlier peak records.

Roy and I have no plans this Fourth of July weekend.

We have both been struggling with the increased rattle of tension we feel when we’re out in public these days and could use a return to our creature comforts for recharge. All I mean by that is I’ll most likely watch Bravo for 9 hours straight and things will feel better once I do.

At least until I remember again.

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Author: RJ Bohyn

My name is RJ, I'm a writer and consultant based in the South. If you're reading this, you've arrived at the corner of the internet I've cultivated to share life, reflections on faith, style, and just about everything in between with those generous enough to read.

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