So here I am, self-sequestering for 14 days. Who would have ever believed that?
In case you haven’t heard, we are in a crisis in this country. If we are over-reacting, we will never know. The cost is high for what we are doing, but if we don’t do it, and are wrong, the cost will be a lot higher.
So here I am.
I was in Israel last week, where there were 36 cases of COVID 19, when I left, out of about eight million residents and a million tourists. I was supposed to come home on St. Patrick’s Day and had my green shirt packed. As airports and airlines began shutting down, my group and I decided that we would come home early. If we were going to be caught in a panic situation, I wanted to be caught on American soil.
“Welcome to Atlanta” had never sounded so good.
As part of our deal of leaving Israel we agreed to stay home for 14 days, just in case, and I am doing everything I can to keep my part of the bargain. It ain’t easy.
I had already spent about 10 days apart from my lovely wife, Lisa. Although I travel with the best people in the world, I still get lonely once the daily party shuts down and I retire to my hotel room. I had really been looking forward to being with her at home. But she has an elderly father and we have a 6-week-old grandbaby, both of whom she helps care for. They say that the virus that is so disrupting our lives can lie dormant for two weeks without displaying symptoms.
“Oh, well,” I thought. “If you’re going to be stuck at home for two weeks, March is a good time for it.” Lisa was good and stocked our larders with plenty of food. Yes, we have plenty of toilet paper. I knew you were wondering. As I flew across the Atlantic, I looked forward to vegetating in my easy chair, watching March Madness and baseball’s Opening Day and a golf tournament or two. After all, the Masters was only three weeks away.
I didn’t kiss the ground when I arrived home. The ground is dirty. But I was glad to be there.
And then Thursday morning things became surreal. The previous day the Southeastern Conference, where it just means more, emptied the stands at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and pulled teams off the court during pregame warmups. Tournament canceled. The NBA had already shut down, as had Major League Baseball.
Then the dominoes began to fall. The NCAA had already announced that they would play their tournament without fans in the stands. But Duke announced they weren’t playing — period. So did Kansas. These are big names. Soon the NCAA announced that they were not going to play the tournament at all. No March Madness. No brackets. No buzzer-beaters or Cinderellas. No thrill of victory. No agony of defeat. Nothing.
Then they doubled down and announced that there would be no play-offs in any winter or spring sport. Unprecedented.
As the days unfolded, other events followed suit. The Masters announced they were postponing this year’s tournament. I hear it might be played in October. The Kentucky Derby moved to opening week of college football season.
For the first time in my 68 trips around the sun I spent an entire weekend without sports.
I know. I know. It is just sports, and what is going on in our country and around the world is much more serious than athletics. Believe me. I know, as well as anyone. That doesn’t make the weekend any more surreal.
The fact remained that I was home alone, hunkered down, with lots and lots of time on my hands.
Saturday, I watched the rerun of the 2019 Iron Bowl. It was just as entertaining the second time around. By Monday I was down to watching re-runs of women’s basketball. Did y’all realize that Baylor broke UConn’s 98-game home-court winning streak earlier this winter? Newton County won 129, once upon a time.
Exhausted by all the hand-wringing, I avoided cable news like the plague. Sorry. Poor choice of words, but I turned it off. I binge watched “The Mentalist” and saw so many episodes of “Blue Bloods” that I thought Frank Reagan might call on me to say grace at the family meal. I eventually turned to “Little Rascal” reruns.
After four days I couldn’t stand television any longer, so I turned off the TV and decided to spend the rest of my time in solitude being constructive. I decided to write. The great American novel will be coming soon, to a pharmacy or hardware store to you.
Meanwhile, stay safe my friends. Wash your hands. Take this seriously, and when we come back, we will come back stronger than ever.
Five days down. Ten to go. We can do this. I promise.