35 Days in Solitude – 1.) (#HashtagNovella – Love in the Time of #COVID-19 Edition)

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St. Patrick’s Day. Traditionally a time of drunken connection. Bacchian revelry where wanderlust parade goers stumble through the streets attempting to tap into whatever deeply seated Irish heritage they may have. Great-great-great Grandaddy was an O’Malley, so kiss me; I’m Irish. Touch my Blarney Stone. Rub it. Do unseemly things to it. I got a bit of O’Malley in me. Kiss me, I’m Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day. A time for boozy twenty-somethings to swap spit in the streets as they wear green beads endorsed by Jameson and Guinness, hide illicit beers in brown paper bags so they can continue to drink on the subway, and holler slurred obscenities at local commuters.

St. Patrick’s Day. Corned beef brisket and potatoes with loved ones. A time for family arguments to be swiftly quelled by a few more rounds and the unwavering compassion of unconditional love.

St. Patrick’s Day is the day New York City chooses to shutter itself in hopes of mitigating the spread of COVID-19, the Coronavirus, throughout the metropolitan area. What felt like a spectral nuisance only a few weeks ago has now become the only thing we seem capable to think or talk about.

A highly communicable respiratory disease that originated in China.

It’s striking how vulnerable breathing makes us.

What nefarious entities are constantly entering and exiting our lungs?

We can’t even see.

Remarkable how something we can’t even see with the naked eye has taken such control over our lives.

But love and fear can’t be seen with the naked eye either. And love and fear control so much of our lives.

So perhaps it all ends up the same in the wash.

Schools are to close until at least April 20th.

35 days from now.

And that amuses me to no end as 4/20 is traditionally a day celebrated by dedicated pot-smokers as they fire up the biggest joint they can construct and let their hair down, slipping into the deepest THC high they can handle.

It amuses me to no end that New York City begins its weeks-long hiatus on a day traditionally reserved for reckless intoxication and looks to end it on a day traditionally reserved for stoned rumination.

Perhaps we find some sort of sober clarity at some point between those two bookends.

Perhaps we don’t. Perhaps we keep the whiskey flowing. Keep the doobie burning.

Lose our heads and find our souls.
The Infinite Intelligence some call God has clearly given us time to reflect and revise.

Time to look at our lives and refrain from distraction.

This is the time to see with full gaze what needs to change inside of us.

A call to adventure. Our interior frontier. A space so vast and so unfathomable. A transcendental ocean. So deep. So wide.

I suddenly realize I have run out of toilet paper and toothpaste.

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A pair of generally banal items.

Except that they have been suspiciously absent from stores over the last few days due to overzealous shoppers who seem to be addressing this global pandemic as if it were the early scenes in a zombie flick. Near the end of the first reel just before shit goes haywire and the motorcycle gang rolls into town with a battery of shotguns. We look suspiciously at these conspiratorial rednecks until shit hits the apocalyptic fan and then we really could use these types on our team. The staunch survivalists who trust no one. Don’t trust the government. Don’t trust your neighbor. The only one you can trust is yourself. So, build the bunker quickly and start packing the arsenal. And don’t forget the corned hash. It goes with everything.

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I need toilet paper and toothpaste.

Two banal items that are forever married together, even as they seem totally disparate. They address hygiene at both ends of the digestive system. Keeping both the entry way and the exit clean. Entry and egress.

I need to leave the apartment.

A call to adventure.

Domestic bliss?

There is nothing blissful about this level of domesticity.

The grocery stores have been thoroughly cleared of toilet product, but a few dollar stores have maintained their stock by severely limiting how much everyone can purchase.

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I dress and leave the apartment.

A call to adventure.

These are the hero’s journeys of our time here in the age of global outbreak. An outbreak of questionable severity. Is any of this warranted? Or is this the latest lo-fi anxiety simply amplified by the bullhorn of Twitter/Facebook/etc.?

Does the government know more than it’s letting on?

Are we all just a clueless mass staring into the agonizing uncertainty of an infinite universe with infinite capacity to confuse and confound us?

Whatever the answer is, I still need to brush my teeth and wipe my ass and presently do not have the staples required to do either activity in a dignified manner.

A call to adventure.

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There is a soft, cool rain outside that seems to further dampen the city. From this small corner, the city looks like an unassuming hamlet. Not the mighty New York City with its rows and rows of skyscrapers, jutting into the air as if they were signs of the city’s erect potency.

I make my way to the nearest store.

A hero’s journey on a cool, wet Tuesday morning.

St. Patrick’s Day. Traditionally celebrating the Roman-Britain born Christian missionary who was kidnapped by Irish pirates and enslaved in Ireland before escaping. Never officially canonized, but he ended up becoming the patron saint of Ireland at any rate.

March 17th is the supposed day of his death.

Celebrated today by hunting the last of the toilet paper and toothpaste. Like panning for gold during the Klondike Rush.

Today begins my hero’s journey.

Time to reflect and revise.

As soon as I find the remaining toiletries.

These are the tests of our times living in the age of COVID-19 with little to wipe my ass with and nothing to brush my teeth with.

I make my way to the nearest store.

To be continued…

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