I knew what was coming but kept praying that it wouldn’t happen. Now it has; thanks to Covid 19, almost all my communal activities have ceased, and most other things as well. At the beginning of the week, however, I was still trying to pretend that life might continue on its predictable path, and that I could do the things I love. I was foolish, and I am sorry.
For example, on Monday afternoon I attended a brief ceremony to celebrate the city’s partnership with the Friends of Cold Spring Park to repair and improve the park’s eroding trails. Mayor Fuller, other city officials and councilors, and some of us activists were on hand for a brief mayoral speech and quick photo shoot. We knew better than to hug or make contact, but at times we were probably closer together than was advisable- especially at the photo op.
Next came a more foolish event involving a greater number of people. I coach girls’ tennis at Newton South, a spring sport, and our season was to have started this upcoming Monday, March 16. On Monday at 6 PM our league, the DCL, held a preseason meeting for all coaches and athletic directors at Concord Carlisle High School. Our numbers were perhaps fifty. We had dinner together and then broke up by sport into different rooms to discuss the coming season.
To be sure, I had my qualms about attending. I am a healthy 69 year-old with no underlying immunological issues or respiratory conditions. I kept my social distance but watched in horror as many younger coaches hugged and shook hands. They felt, perhaps, that the threat of spreading the virus had been overblown, and that the symptoms for their demographic would be mild. I tried in vain to explain that the goal of social distancing was to slow the spread of sickness so that medical facilities wouldn’t be overwhelmed. It seems that this message has yet to sink deeply into the public’s psyche. Should I have opted out of this mandatory meeting?
I drove directly from the coaches’ meeting to Hebrew College to attend my religious group’s Purim celebration. I stayed less than an hour, and I tried not to draw too close to anyone. But I won’t deny that at least 100 people were in the hall listening to the traditional reading of the Purim story and laughing at comical sketches put on by members of the congregation. In retrospect, that was probably another act of folly, given my age. By now my group has suspended services going forward.
The trend of times prevented me from doing much else this week that might have placed in me in groups of people. On Wednesday 8th Grade Sports Step-Up Night at South was postponed, as was the meeting of the Bike Newton steering committee. On Thursday the Newton Transportation meeting on putting bike lanes on Beacon Street was put off, as was the monthly meeting of the Waban Area Council, on which I serve.
I did play doubles tennis with friends twice this week, once outside and once at my club. I did not linger at the club or shake anyone’s hand in either instance. Should I not have played?
This brave new world in which we now live begs clarity. Perhaps I should just stay home and avoid all direct human contact save with my wife until the Covid 19 nightmare has passed. What about shopping? Any opinions?