Notes From the Pandemic, Day 40

It’s rather unsettling to properly contemplate the long list of things that are getting postponed or canceled. Concerts, sporting events, weddings, senior proms, family gatherings, high school reunions… In the giant list of things, my 48th birthday isn’t necessarily the kind of event that should be a big deal. Yet, it was casualty of the pandemic, and canceling it was nonetheless disappointing.

When Loudoun County Public Schools abruptly shut down at 5:00 AM on March 12, Sally and I immediately knew that the birthday plans were in jeopardy. They actually weren’t anything elaborate. We were going to celebrate a few days early by grabbing dinner and drinks in downtown Winchester on the evening of March 19, spend the night at the George Washington Hotel, which is just a couple blocks away from there, and then spend the next day visiting favorite shops and restaurants in the Winchester area. It was something we have done numerous times over the years, so it wasn’t in of itself anything special. However, in addition to being my birthday celebration, it was going to be our first night out of the year, which we eagerly anticipated for weeks.

Initially, there didn’t seem to be any pressing reason to not go through with the plans. However, that quickly changed less than 12 hours after LCPS announced the school closings, when Governor Northam issued a State of Emergency. Over the following days, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths increased — both locally and nationally — and authorities enacted various additional measures to prevent its spread, we modified the plans in a manner that would still let us at least spend some away from the house. For a few days, the revised overnight getaway involved spending the evening at the hotel, ordering takeout from the nearby restaurants, and getting drinks from the hotel bar and/or bring our own alcohol to the room.

Those plans collapsed completely on St. Patrick’s Day when Northam issued a public health emergency order that barred more than 10 patrons at businesses. Although that is what ultimately necessitated canceling the hotel reservation, we had started leaning towards that decision the day before when O’Faolain’s announced that they were temporarily closing as a result of the increased danger to public health. In the end, our big getaway turned into taking Friday, March 20 and the following Tuesday (my actual birthday) off from work, and the two of us simply spending those days together. The closest we got to eating out was over the weekend, when we went to Five Guys, got a large order of fries as takeout, and then proceeded to eat them in the minivan in the parking lot.

We called that a date night.

Chances are good that many of the guidelines and restrictions currently in place will still be there when each of our next birthdays come around. With any luck, we’ll be able to properly celebrate my 50th in 2022. It will be even better if Sally and I can properly enjoy our 10th wedding anniversary at the end of 2021.

A couple other tidbits to close this post out on:

  • I actually made the decision months ago, before COVID-19 turned our lives upside, but Albert Camus’s The Plague is my classic novel for the year. I’m now about a third of the way through it.
  • Along those same lines, it feels like a rewatch of 12 Monkeys is in order. Either the movie or the television series will do nicely. There’s really no reason why it can’t be both.

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