There’s a strange car in the driveway. It has out-of-province plates and showed up a couple of days ago. WTF is some come-from-away doing in our neighbourhood at a time like this. A time when COVID 19 numbers have just started ticking upwards again with a lot of the new cases related to out-of-province travel. This is what our neighbours are probably thinking. And I get it because it is human nature and we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions and passing judgement. Plus, commenting on one’s neighbours’ activities is a national pastime.
The car is It is not strange to us and we are very happy to have it here. Just after dinner on Sunday, we got a call from JT, who currently lives out of province. “I think I am going to come home,” he said. “I am feeling very overwhelmed.” His voice was shaky and said more than his words. It said I need to come home. I need some support.
JT is like me. He has down times. He gets those same heavy, exhausting, bottom-of-the-well feelings that I have described suffering from. He is a musician who hasn’t played a gig in over a year. His support network of fellow musicians is now nonexistent. He is trying to pay his bills by teaching dwindling music lessons online (not an easy task) and working part-time at The Beer Store, which was deemed an essential service but attracts multitudes of idiots and anti-maskers. He has been struggling to move forward with career decisions made over a year ago. JT is not alone in all this. There are many in the same boat, but he is my son and he needs a break.
“I’m packing the car and leaving tonight,” he said. “I will be there tomorrow afternoon.”
When someone arrives from outside the province, they must isolate for 14 days. Nova Scotia’s current COVID protocol is that any persons living at the destination must also isolate. This gave The Doc and I, both tired from lack of sleep due to check ins with JT during his night of driving, a few hours on Monday to prepare for two weeks of isolation. No problem. This wasn’t our first rodeo. We had to isolate in the fall and the biggest concern was food. The Doc headed to the meat store we frequent and the liquor store, because none of us wanted to go into isolation without our favourite beverages–beer for him and JT and wine for me.
I, in turn, headed off to the grocery store with a very long list of necessities in order to cover off meals and bathroom visits for the next two weeks. I arrived at the grocery store and decided to leave my purse in the car and only take my debit card and the list in. Once masked and in the store, I realized that I did not have the list, it was still in my purse; and I had forgotten to bring in my grocery bags. Off I go back to my car where I discover, while opening the hatch to look for grocery bags, that my winter tires were still in there taking up the space where all those groceries and paper products were supposed to go. In my flustered and poor attempt to rearrange these tires, I must have lost the list because it was gone by the time I was back inside and ready to shop.
So I wandered slowly up and down the aisles hoping that my memory would be jogged by certain things to tell me that they were on the missing list. At the checkout, I didn’t have enough bags so I opted for paper ones for all the excess stuff. At my car, I struggled to fit the bags around the snow tires, with the paper ones tearing every time I attempted to pick them up. I was so happy to be heading home. It would take two relaxing weeks of isolation to recover from this adventure.
I would love to tell you that I remembered everything, but I did not. There were a few things that we realized I missed while putting the groceries away. The Doc running back out to pick up burritos for dinner just before JT arrived, which would effectively put us all into lockdown, detoured to pick these things up. We have since discovered there are still some missed items. Most notably sour cream and Q-tip Swabs. There won’t be any fajitas made in the next two weeks, and there may be some dirty ears before our isolation ends.
JT is settling in very well. We are happy that he arrived before the provincial boarder closed on Thursday. He packed his instruments so there will be music, specifically good music in our house again for a while. The Doc and I will have in-person music lessons with him. He has been teaching us via Facetime. We are all isolating but do not feel isolated. All of our spirits have improved.
As far as the neighbours go, JT left the yard yesterday to go for a recommended COVID test, one of two that will take place over his isolation period. I am sure some of the neighbours noticed the come-from-away car leaving and coming back and wondered why, then jumped to one conclusion or another. Our usually chatty neighbour, the guy who can talk for an hour on the property line, has kept his distance in the form of a quick “hi” as he continued to walk up his driveway. All is good, we didn’t have to make any public announcements. There have been a couple of distanced-drop offs by friends of JT’s. A prescription refill and a forgotten cable that allows them to game and chat together. And I am sure these events were also noticed. All the rules are being followed on our part so we have no concerns about the optics. And luckily we live in a pretty nice neighbourhood where people tend to only use this kind of information gathering for personal entertainment. So I say, let everyone be entertained.
Thank you for reading.
Photo: Jenn Stone