Edgartown: surreal times


We are living in some pretty surreal times, aren’t we? Everyday life just gets weirder and weirder. Yesterday, I walked to the store for a few things and when I left, I walked home to the sounds of a lone bagpipe. It made an already dreamlike experience that much stranger. The streets were quiet, I didn’t see many cars, and even fewer people. I kept waiting to wake up.

How are you all holding up with this whole coronavirus? I have been remaining calm for the most part but it is starting to wear on me. With all my injuries and illnesses over the last couple of months, I guess I’m feeling a little bit like a target. Honestly, I worry more about being a “carrier” to the people I love rather than getting sick myself. We have an aging community here. I have my dad and my mother-in-law who are in their 90s and I worry for them. We are doing the best we can at “social distancing.” I wash my hands constantly. I disinfect everything, carefully washing my fruit and veggies and things like that. I avoid crowds and try to stay 4 to 6 feet away from others. Basically, I’m trying to follow the do’s and don’ts put out by the CDC, and I try not to panic or stress out too much. But there are some things that I’ve had to do, such as some shopping, some banking so I could pay some bills, and going to the mail to send off scholarship applications. Other than that, I’m pretty much sitting at home. I’ve got my online class to keep me busy and possibly some online teaching for our students starting next week. And I’m thinking this may be the time to take up art like I keep saying I’ll do. 

I was going to write a list here of everything that is closed, but it would be really long. It’s probably easier to note what is open. Many restaurants are open for takeout only. Grocery stores will remain open. Stop and Shop stores are offering special hours for people over 60 to shop. Beginning Thursday, March 19, stores will be open from 6 am until 7:30 am for shoppers over 60 to allow for greater social distancing while shopping. The town hall and the harbormaster will be open by appointment, the library, water department, wastewater department, and councils on aging are closed, and, of course the fire and police departments are open. The EMS departments do ask that people use discretion when seeking emergency services and only go to the buildings in an emergency. The council on aging is offering to-go food through a service window and prearranged delivery. Oh, and all of the League of Women Voters Candidate Forums are canceled.

I got to hug my boy finally! We went down to South Carolina for his graduation from Marine Corps boot camp last week before everything went crazy with the virus. During family day on Thursday, they announced that they were cutting that day’s activities short and canceling graduation. So we got to collect Riley a day early and then bring him home for 10 days leave. With a recent military travel ban, I thought we had lucked out and were going to have him for longer than expected. Alas, he is still expected to report to Camp Lejeune next Monday. I’m really not looking forward to letting him go again, but it is so nice having him home for a bit.

The 2020 U.S. Census is expected to begin this week. Keep an eye on your mail for the initial notification letter, and be sure to fill out your census form online, or by phone or mail. The online and phone versions are available in 13 languages, including English and Portuguese, and the mail-in version is available in English and Spanish. All responses are strictly confidential. The census will determine about $16 billion in federal funds to Massachusetts, so an accurate count is essential. The census also affects political representation at the local, state, and federal levels, including the redrawing of legislative districts. For more information, or to get involved in your community, contact Keith Chatinover, chairman of the Dukes County Complete Count Committee, at kchatinover@gmail.com

So with so many things canceled, what can we all do while practicing social distancing? Look online for special offerings — yoga classes, art classes, and such. You can visit a number of museums virtually while online and also view a number of concerts and Broadway plays. Take the opportunity to do some projects around the house, teach kids new things that, if you’re like me, are always hard to fit into the busy schedule. Try to find the gifts in this. It might feel like a stretch but it may help us all get through this if we try to find the positives.

Lastly, there has been a post going around Facebook that I think is worth sharing here, though I can’t attribute it to a source. It says “My daughter’s school superintendent said something profound in his address canceling school for the next three weeks. He said: In the end it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be quite apparent if we under-reacted or did too little.” That is powerful stuff. Remember that we are working together, for each other here. You may think social distancing and avoiding groups is over the top, but maybe you aren’t doing it for you. Maybe you’re doing it for the more vulnerable in our community. Let this experience bind us together and not tear us apart. If ever there was a good time to be our best selves, it is now. 

How about some happy birthday wishes during this challenging time. Happy birthday to Brenda De Oliveira on March 15, Jeff Majkowski, our amazing 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher, on March 16, Renee Viera on March 17, and Zach Townes on March 20. And an extra special happy birthday wish goes out to Margaret “Peg” Nugent, who celebrated her 100th birthday on March 9.

I wish you all good health. Stay strong. We will get through this.