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We've Been Lucky So Far. I Hope We Stay That Way

A greenhouse presents a novel solution for the author's family and her 88-year-old mother when it comes to safe visits. (Courtesy Holly Robinson)
A greenhouse presents a novel solution for the author's family and her 88-year-old mother when it comes to safe visits. (Courtesy Holly Robinson)

I was driving back from seeing my 88-year-old mother — as in, I saw her from six feet away while I tossed a bag of groceries in her direction — when I heard a snippet of an NPR interview with epidemiologist Michael Osterholm.

In discussing how we're going to get to the other side of the pandemic, Osterholm said, “There is no beam-me-up-Scotty machine" for this.

For you "Star Trek" fans, yes, I know that Captain Kirk never uttered that exact line on the show. (I was such a Trekkie that I built the Starship Enterprise out of an old refrigerator box in my garage.)

Still, if ever there was a time when we all wanted magically escape, it's now.

“I don't think I can take another month of this,” my mother said.

“What's the thing you miss most?” I asked.

“Going to the grocery store myself.”

My mother shut the door before I could exhale any virus in her direction.

Interesting that she misses shopping more than she misses seeing us, but never mind. We're all missing our boring, ordinary normals.

I go to sleep most nights with a feeling of dread, then wake up with a sense of doom and lots of questions. Like, why do the phrases “viral load” and “herd immunity” sound like horror movies? Is that a viral cough or spring allergies? And, how can I stop picturing my algebra teacher with dandruff every time I hear “shedding the virus"?

Forget my retirement account. The way the economy is going, I'll be working until I'm 110 and begging the virus to kill me. And what about all of the poor manicurists and waiters, taxi drivers and hotel workers, food delivery people and house cleaners? They're either out of work or getting infected because they're still working.

I am gearing myself up for the virus to invade our house ... I hope we survive it.

We have been lucky so far. My husband and I have worked remotely for years. Our children, several of whom fled their apartments in New York and Los Angeles for safe harbor with us, can do the same. Two of our kids are in school and take classes online.

Experts (and the Dalai Lama, too) tell us that happiness is a choice, so I choose to enjoy our family's late nights of Settlers of Catan and binge-watching TV shows. I have a dog that's always happy to go on another walk and I've found yoga classes online. Neighbors are still out on the sidewalks and happy to chat, even if we're all hoarse from shouting at each other from across the street.

It's a good life. It's even sustainable, until one of us gets sick. I am gearing myself up for the virus to invade our house, no matter how many times we wash our hands. I hope we survive it.

Meanwhile, the daffodils are blooming in my garden, nodding their sunny little faces, and I'm starting seeds for the vegetable patch. My friends and I are planning a Zoom cocktail party, and the emails leading up to it have been about whether our face wax kits will arrive in time and if we have to bother wearing bras.

I say no. If there really is no beam-me-up machine, we might as well let it all hang out and have fun while we can.

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Holly Robinson Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Holly Robinson is a novelist, journalist and celebrity ghost writer whose newest novel is "Folly Cove." She is also the author of "The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir."

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