In Good Company

My sad version of a cartoon.

So for two years, I avoided it like the plague.

I washed my hands for 20 seconds, stayed six feet apart from my fellow man, hand sanitized my hands raw, wiped down groceries, sprayed disinfectant on the mail, Instacarted groceries, Amazoned everything, had shoe washing stations outside my front door, wiped down all surfaces with Clorox wipes, wore a mask, took Vitamin C and D, went on endless walks and I prayed. Still, apparently my luck ran out on a recent trip to New York, which lit up like Rudolph’s nose on a map of Covid hot spots in the U.S.

I’d had fair warning as Matthew Broderick and then his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, tested positive for Covid, which is why the play we’d gone to see- Plaza Suite– was cancelled. While we wore masks in the airport, on the plane and at the plays we attended, we let our guard slip in other places. We didn’t always mask in Ubers, ate indoors (it was cold) and walked the crowded streets of New York and into stores, like we were immune to contracting the dreaded Coronavirus. We were not.

Zeke felt bad first.

He took a Zyrtec and another allergy medicine, thinking he had allergies, and when he tested for Covid, it came back negative. The next day, however, it came back positive. The following day, I had a slight headache, which I attributed to being out in the sun during a tennis match, but I tested negative. The next day I had a nasal drip and thought “Oh no!” but I tested negative two more times, with two different brands of tests. Still, given the circumstances, I avoided people at my grandson Phoenix’s 1st Birthday Party, which took place at our home.

I’d already made my Mom’s Baked Beans and S’Mores Ice Cream a couple days before. I was supposed to pick up the Guava and Cheese Birthday Cake from Gilbert’s Bakery, but declined as I didn’t want to be around anyone. My sister Elise, a school nurse, advised me if I was planning on being around people at the party to wear a mask, to be on the safe side. I decided to just stay upstairs and watch the festivities down below. Despite complaining about how our house is too big, it actually worked out as Zeke and I were in separate bedrooms upstairs. And, it was kind of nice to be at a party where I didn’t have to do any work. People brought us plates of food from the party, so we didn’t starve to death.

Easter was a very small affair. While we were going to have an Easter Egg Hunt for Wyatt, my daughter had a big event for Earth Day and didn’t want to take a chance on getting sick. Wyatt and Phoenix’s Easter baskets are still sitting on my credenza, waiting to be unwrapped. Emma came over for dinner and we ate outside.

Monday I tested positive for Covid. I immediately texted my tennis partner and captain, as I’d played Thursday and I was, obviously, closest to my partner, even though we were outside. These last days, I’d hoped against hope what I had was just a cold and a strange coincidence that I’d gotten it the same time as my husband had Covid, but now there was no escaping the two pink lines on the test. I’m not sure what I felt. Not panic, or relief. Perhaps just resignation?

After SO long of avoiding Covid, it finally caught up with me. Of course, I’m vaccinated and boosted, so it was a very mild case. It just felt like a head cold and certainly not the worst I’ve ever had in my life. I took Advil in the day, Nyquil at night, Vitamin C & D and slept a lot. I finished my Book Club book (The Paris Apartment) and watched feel-good shows on Netflix (Something’s Got to Give). I finally sent in an article to Coral Gables Magazine I started six months ago.

I guess there is some kind of shame involved with getting Covid.

Of not being smart enough to out-smart it, of letting our guard down on our trip to New York, of not being super immune. My resident nurse thinks my husband got it in New York and I got it from him. But, in the end, does it matter where we got it? People telling me I now had Super Immunity meant well, but it really didn’t cheer me up. And, seeing how different people reacted to my diagnosis was enlightening, to say the least.

A woman on my tennis team (who wasn’t even at the tennis match!) called my mother and insisted I e-mail my whole tennis team and tell them I had Covid. My mother called me, reluctantly, and I told her I’d told my tennis captain and partner, so felt I’d done my duty. My mother felt uncomfortable being stuck in the middle and then, this lady started campaigning my tennis captain relentlessly.

I called my captain and we decided she would send out an e-mail saying someone on the team tested positive for Covid and if anyone had any questions to contact her. It seemed a moot point, as I think everyone knew it was ME. And the woman so concerned about the whole team getting Covid from me? Never heard from her inquiring how I was doing. I truly felt like a pariah; like I had a scarlet C emblazoned on my chest.

My sister Kelley brought me Matzo Ball Soup and magazines, my Mom dropped off a book. My daughter A.J. stayed away, as she didn’t want to get sick since she was hosting an Earth Day event. My son Christopher made an unexpected visit to Miami from Colorado. I told him about my status and that maybe I should go to the Keys to avoid exposing him.

I don’t care if you have Covid, I’m going to give you a big hug when I see you.

said Christopher.

“Ok,” I answered. “But only with my N-95 mask on.”

He called me “Covid mama.”

One person, besides my tennis partner, on my tennis team texted me saying she hoped I was ok. An older lady, she’d taken a test to make sure she didn’t have it. It was negative. And, as if to make matters worse, I found out that a text group I’m a part of held a birthday party where everyone, sans me, got invited. So I already felt icky and this made me feel ickier.

I realize I’m lucky to have had a very mild case of Covid, but I came to the unremarkable conclusion- Covid is boring. Not to make light of people who have experienced serious Covid, been hospitalized or died, but this was my experience. Yes, I could read, write, watch movies, garden, cook and take walks, but it’s a very isolating and lonely experience, not to mention the unspoken shame involved. Meanwhile, my husband tested negative after seven days, giving me a time-frame of what I could expect.

A lunch I was supposed to attend Friday obviously wasn’t happening for me, so I drove to the Keys. We went out on the boat Saturday and we both agreed, as we ate our Roast Beef Subs from Avenue Subs in Key Largo (delicious!) at Nest Key, we were glad we bought a boat in 2020. It’s the perfect place to socially distance and the fresh air and salt water are just what the doctor ordered- Vitamin Sea.

So many people- friends and family- have had Covid; I know my experience is not unique. I’m joining a big club I never wanted to be a part of. At least I have comfort I’m joining a club people like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Prince Charles and Camilla and, of course, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker have joined. We’re in good company. And it’s something else my husband and I have gone through together, although nothing we ever wanted to. I guess when we’re old and gray we’ll say “Remember when we got Covid after that trip to New York?”

I’m a firm believer in trying to learn something from whatever calamity occurs. So, what did I learn from Covid? Certainly, that no one is immune. And also, empathy for people that get it. I would certainly reach out to friends and family that have it to check up on them by texting, phoning or e-mailing, drop them off soup, magazines, books. I would do something to make them feel like they’re not so alone.

But for now, I’m ready to put this in the rear view mirror.

Up Next: Spaghetti Josie’s Way

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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