It’s been such a strange couple of months.
Today marks 6 months of living in Seattle, and we are spending it “social distancing” in our apartment. The news is crazy right now, with information and advise ranging from “It’s a hoax!” to “We’re going to be quarantined for 18 months and 4% of the world’s population is going to die.”
While I can’t say what is accurate and what isn’t, and I’m not here to give orders or pass judgement on those who belief differently than me….I can tell you what it’s really like in downtown Seattle right now. We are ground zero for the US and seem to be on the front edge of drug development and trials.
So what’s it like? QUIET. It’s really quiet. We live in a neighborhood called Denny Triangle which is tucked right between South Lake Union, where a lot of Amazon buildings are, and Bell Town, which is a a vibrant neighborhood with lots of bars and restaurants and shops. In other words, it’s usually really busy. Right now, the streets are empty. There’s no traffic noise. Construction on some new high rises around me seems to be continuing as I see quite a few construction workers on the streets. Aside from that it’s just a person here or there walking a dog. Restaurants and bars are mostly closed. They’re allowed to do take-out and delivery but it doesn’t appear that many of them are choosing to do that.
Since the virus initially hit here in late January, I think we’ve mostly gotten past the “bare shelves” hoarding phase. Everyone that I’ve interacted with is pretty calm, but everyone is definitely taking it seriously. Every conversation or email ends with “Be careful” or “Stay Safe” now.
We adhered to the requests on the news to not buy masks and gloves, which I actually regret a little. We went to CVS on Wednesday (the only place we’ve been in Seattle in ….a month?), and while they did have plenty of TP, there was no hand sanitizer, no hand soap, no gloves, and no masks. I have plenty of bar soap so we’ll survive, but would be nice to be able to get some hand sanitizer gel. I’ve also only got a couple of containers of bleach wipes and am pretty worried about running out.
We got an Instacart of groceries earlier this week and the shopper ended up having to substitute ~15 items (it was a huge order, we haven’t grocery shopped in weeks and had one yogurt, pickles, one orange, and some condiments left in our fridge). But – we were able to get all the basics like eggs, bread (had to get white, no wheat left), meat, and produce. We asked the delivery person to just leave the groceries at the door to reduce contact and tipped him $100. We are so grateful that there are still people willing to do this work but believe they should be compensated well, so we’re doing what we can.
Our building is pretty much locked down right now, with most of the common areas like the gym and theater rooms completely shut down. There’s a “resident park” that’s on the 7th floor of the building which is still open, and the rooftop areas are mostly open, but we’re avoiding them completely. They’ve taped off a big area in front of the concierge desk in the lobby and have asked that people remain behind the line when interacting with the staff. It’s kind of surreal to see people standing 4 feet back from the counter chatting it up. We’ve seen a huge uptick in deliveries down at the desk. Since everyone is avoiding stores, we’re all ordering things instead. There haven’t been any confirmed cases in our buildings, thankfully. I hope everyone else is respecting the social distancing as much as we are.
It sounds like schools will be cancelled at least until May and I would be surprised if they re-open before next school year. Brian works for Amazon and they’ve been told to work from home at least until May, likely longer. I start a new job Monday and instead of flying into the office as was originally expected, I’ll be starting my job remotely. It will be interesting, I’m sure, but I’m grateful that they haven’t asked me to fly in for the meeting.
We’re trying to stay calm but we both go through phases of panic. It’s interesting to see other states following in our steps/timeline exactly. Brian and his mother have birthday’s one day apart in early March and she was going to fly out and visit us but Brian persuaded her not to. At that point, things were pretty grim in Seattle but the rest of the country wasn’t feeling it yet. Now, she’s experiencing what we were experiencing a few weeks ago and I think she understands why we asked her not to come. It’s strange having no idea when we will be able to see our families again. We both have elderly grandparents in nursing homes and are absolutely not willing to risk their health by going anywhere near them.
I think the hardest part is knowing that while it’s unlikely, it’s possible that one of us will get sick. Every time Brian coughs or sneezes, even though I know it’s allergy season, my heart skips a beat and I have to take a few deep breaths and convince myself he will be okay. I haven’t been sleeping much. I lay awake and read news from around the world, or toss and turn and listen to Brian’s snoring to make sure he’s okay. He isn’t even sick but I can’t stop the worry.
I normally just keep whatever life insurance my current job offers, but since I just left a job, I have the option to convert my coverage to an individual policy, which I’m doing for the first time. Untimely death is much more possible than it was a few months ago. I can’t imagine what healthcare workers are feeling right now. It almost seems like going to war. They are walking into the most dangerous situation of their lives, voluntarily, every single day. How lucky are the rest of us that we don’t have to face that reality?
So what comes next? We don’t know.
We’ve looked at AirBnbs in the middle of nowhere to try to rent and go “work from home” from someplace else where we have a yard and can just let the dogs in and out without interacting with other people. We still might do that. But – if I have to be hospitalized for this somewhere, Seattle seems like a good place to be. The hospitals here are now experienced in dealing with it and we are testing new drugs and vaccines right here in Seattle. We know that we can get groceries and services here in Seattle but don’t know if we will be able to in other places. There are just so many unknowns.
We cancelled our two week vacation to St John at the end of April. My gut reaction is to just go someplace else. Just escape it. Unfortunately, right now, there’s no where to go. And being from Seattle, I doubt that most people would want us around. Travel is something we both love but I wonder if that will ever be the same for us. If this virus keeps coming back year after year, who knows when it will be safe to travel again.
We’ve been social distancing for a while but every single time we take the dogs out, I wonder if that’s going to be the time that I touch an elevator button or door handle that’s going to be the thing that does me in. I think I would be less worried if I wasn’t in Seattle, but also feel like I’m safer here if I do get sick because the mayor and governor have been aggressive and taken every measure available to them to advance care and testing.
I worry about our jobs if the economy tanks. I graduated college in 2009 in the middle of the last economic crisis. I can’t help but think that we could be stepping back into that type of situation, where the higher paying, more experienced employees are cut. Neither of us work in industries that would be directly impacted by the virus, but it’s possible that everyone will be impacted. We just don’t know.
We’ll just keep on keeping on. I hope you’re staying safe.