The Story Hall
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The Story Hall

Finding Ways to Get Through

36 Days In, With No End In Sight

A shot from the Falmouth side of the Rappahannock

We Don’t Get Out Much These Days

Today was the 36th day of quarantine for me. What a ride this has been. There have been days of it that have truly sucked, but for the most part, it’s just been another adventure, an opportunity for new and interesting things in my life. I could sit around and wail about how screwed up it all is, how it didn’t have to be like this, how a lot of this could have been avoided, and I am certain that all of that is true. But guess what — it isn’t, and wasn’t, so what we have to deal with is this, and I deal with it the only way I know how to. I find ways to make it work in my life.

I only leave the house two or three times a week, usually to make a grocery run. When I do, I mask and glove up, and carefully sterilize everything upon re-entry to the house. I take no chances. Anything that comes by way of the mail or federal express gets sterilized before it comes into this house. If one or both of us wind up getting this dreadful virus, it won’t be for lack of being careful, on both of our parts.

Kathy hasn’t left the house at all the whole time she’s been self-quarantined, which is about 5 days longer than I have. She’s good with it. She has herself all set up in one corner of the entertainment room, which is right beside our bedroom, and pretty much sticks to those two rooms and the kitchen. She’s gone off her medication for rheumatoid arthritis, since that will not help her fight the virus if she ever gets it, so it’s become even more painful for her to move around. She does her best to handle that.

We both work full time from home. For both of us, work has been much busier, working from home during this, than it was before this pandemic hit the U.S. full force. We’ve been working really hard, me from my basement office, she from her corner, with three screens and two laptops set up.

A shot taken out of our porthole from our last cruise, this as we left out of Dover, England

Vacation Interrupted

Today would have been our second day at sea, of a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise we’d planned to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. That will be tomorrow, Tuesday the 21st. We were going to follow that up with a week at Disney World, staying in the newest vacation club villas at the Wilderness Lodge there.

We were both so looking forward to that vacation. Kathy was counting down the days from about 3 or 4 months out. Our last vacation was in October, so we really needed this one. For us, that’s a long stretch without a vacation.

So, I decided to still take this week off, simply because I needed a break. These long days of being on the phone for a good part of them, or on video chats, were taking their toll on me. This past week was especially tough, when I got hit with a vertigo attack on Monday morning, brought on by a nasty vestibular migraine. I’d been pushing myself too hard, and that happened as a result. So, I’ve really been looking forward to this week off.

A Battlefield Shot, from the Manassas Battlefield

A Walk in the Wilderness

I don’t have big plans for it, other than maybe walking a battlefield one day, if I’m allowed to. I haven’t walked the Wilderness Battle field yet, and that’s only about a 20 minute drive from here. I had a great-great uncle who got wounded on the second day of that battle, and my great grandfather, Martin Hager, who was his little brother, saved his life by staying by his side, staunching the wound in his side until the surgeons could patch him up.

After that, young Martin (16 by then, and a 3 year veteran of the war) was the last one standing, among his step-father and two older brothers. His dad had been killed early on in the war, and both brothers injured and sent home. Martin served out his entire 3 year enlistment, plus a couple of months, and lived to be the last 3 year enlistee of the entire Union Army to survive, until he died at age 93 in 1939. I love touring battle fields where he once fought. I always feel more connected to him, and to my own father, who dearly loved him, when I do.

Dad with little sister Mary at his and Mom’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Missing My Friend and Father

I could use a little more of that feeling of closeness to my father right about now. I miss him so much, especially in times like these. I’m so glad we each got over our shit with each other while he was still alive. We got to share a few years of a deepening friendship that was one of the bright spots of my life. I still think of him so often, and think about how proud he would be of me, and how my life has turned out. He had become one of my biggest cheerleaders towards the end of his life. Now, I try to be that for others who need a cheerleader in their lives. I feel like I do pretty good with that. I learned it from the best.

One of the true bright spots of all of this, for me, has been this group I discovered early on in my quarantine, that has become a pure joy to be a part of. They are based out of Seattle, Washington, where this virus first hit hard in this country, and they started a facebook group and a regular nightly meeting for some of their members who’d had to quarantine themselves.

A Space Needle shot from our last, and only time, actually in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle

A cousin-in-law who’s also in the program invited me to join the FB group, and I subsequently joined the group that meets on Zoom. They are a true 12 step group, much more than just the nightly meeting. In the fellowship, a home group, in addition to the regular meetings, gets to know each other outside of the meetings. They go out to diners together, they hang out, go to movies, play cards, the whole nine.

None of that is really possible in this quarantined world, but the Zoom room that hosts the meetings stays open, 24/7. Many stay on after the meeting, and just fellowship, get to know each other, keep each other company, well into the night and the next morning. I often wake up to find them still on there, deep into some conversation about anything under the sun.

That room has become a lifeline for many addicts trying to stay clean through this unprecedented time we’re living through. While it is based out of Seattle, those of us who now call it their home group include addicts from Virginia (myself and two others, from other parts of this state), Missouri, North Dakota, Idaho, California, France, Iceland, England, Pennsylvania, and New York.

I’m sure there’s a few other places represented on there. In a cyber world like we are currently living in, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. We’re all just a click away from each other, now. Some of the members who still go into work each day, will take those hanging out in the chat room to work with them. One of my fellow Virginians works in the Pentagon, and has taken us to work with him a number of times. We call it “Take-Your-Zoom-buddies to work Day”! We help each other through these difficult times.

Positive Outcomes of a Pandemic

I consider that group one of the things that I am grateful for this pandemic for bringing into my life. There are many other things that have been very positive developments out of all of this. Instead of focusing on the terrible consequences of the poor planning and even poorer response my country has demonstrated towards this panemic, I choose to celebrate the positives that have come out of it, and the connections it has resulted in.

How about that great “concert” on tv the other night? Man, watching the Rolling Stones do a socially-distanced version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, each in their own homes, jamming together and for the world, and the likes of Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, John Legend, and Andrea Bocelli doing a powerful musical prayer — wow! That wouldn’t have happened were it not for this.




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Hawkeye Pete Egan B.

Hawkeye Pete Egan B.

Connecting the dots. Storytelling helps me to make sense of this world, and of my life. I love writing and reading. Writing is like breathing, for me.

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