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Looking Back While Facing the Future

Many of us are living the same way these days. Even in Thailand, the only places open are grocery stores, pharmacies, and some restaurants (take-out exclusively). I’m cooking more than normal, do a bit of daily yard work, and try to keep the house relatively clean.

I enjoy my weekly foray to the grocery store. At the entrance, I’m greeted with an infrared thermometer to ensure I’m not harboring any unwanted visitors in my body. Once my temperature is determined to be at an acceptable level, I’m given a squeeze of sanitizing gel, by a masked and gloved sentinel. Only then, am I given a shopping cart, with a pre-sanitized handle, and granted entrance into Rimping, a veritable paradise of shelves stocked full of items catering to the tastes of western foreigners.

I haul my spoils home on my trusty scooter, bags attached to every available space on the bike … under the seat, tied to the handlebars, and strapped to my person. Once I’ve made it back home safely, I unload my bounty, and settle in for the week. I probably won’t step outside of the fence around my house again, unless I need milk from 7-11.

The rules here are a little more draconian than in the U.S., at least from what I see on television. Wearing a mask is mandatory. Those caught outside their own homes without wearing one face a 20,000 baht ($611)-fine. We also have a national curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., in addition to an alcohol ban. It’s currently Songkran, which is the Thai New Year holiday. Normally, this is a time for celebration, with people drinking and throwing water on each other for three days. This year, it’s postponed for now.

Luckily, I’m about 80% introvert, and have no problem hibernating in my den until this viral winter is over. I’ve been spending much of my time in front of the television. Yes, I’ve watched The Tiger King. I’m all caught up on Better Call Saul and Ozark (both excellent, by the way). However, my go-to is, and will always be, entertainment in the form of nostalgia.

I can’t imagine the horror of going through this pseudo-house arrest without Netflix and YouTube. Most of what I’m watching, I’ve seen a dozen times before. Since this all began, I’ve seen True Grit (both versions), Breakfast Club, Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, and myriad more movies from my youth. I’ve also been watching old re-runs of television shows like, Columbo, The Twilight Zone (the original), and The Office, to name only a few. I wonder sometimes if everyone else is doing the same. I have noticed more social media posts with high school yearbook photos, and I’ve had a few new Facebook friend requests from people I haven’t seen or talked to in decades.

I find it interesting, during a time where our vision of the future is slightly obscured, people are turning to the past (at least I am). There’s something comforting about sitting down to watch Lonesome Dove for the zillionth time. Let’s face it, these days all that are being made are re-makes and sequels. Today’s cinematic fare, in my humble opinion, doesn’t hold a candle to those movies we stood in line for hours to see, back in the day.

It won’t be long before we’re all back to our normal routine. I see there is some talk about opening up some parts of the U.S. as soon as May 1st. Interestingly, I just read an article here about the possible re-opening of Chonburi (a coastal, Thai city of 1.7 million), also on May 1st.

I know there are many people who feel it’s too early to start interacting again, and many who think we already should. As for me, and I’m sure some of you disagree, I believe we should start opening up again. The last month or so has been an important lesson for all of us. By now, we should know how to keep our distance from each other, we’re (hopefully) washing our hands often and using sanitizer, and we’re avoiding gathering in groups. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a rash of virus-positive grocery store employees. If they can take the proper measures to safely conduct themselves at work, maybe it’s time for the rest of us to give it a try.

There will always be idiots. There are idiots now. Those who gather in large groups to drink and carouse on Florida’s beaches, and those who harass church-goers, listening to their pastor on an FM station, in their cars, seem equally moronic to me. There has to be a happy medium.

While we’re waiting at opposite ends of the earth for those in charge to open things up again, at least we’ve got a happy place to keep us sane. The past. Ironically, if we faced the same situation back in the 80s, there wouldn’t be streaming services available. We’d have to do something absurd, like read some books!

Please let me know what activity has helped you get through this, and how you feel about making an attempt at getting back to normalcy. Take care of yourselves and each other. If you can help someone who needs it, now’s the time for humanity … even if it’s just giving up a roll of toilet paper for your neighbor! C'mon, you know you can spare a roll from that pile you have stacked in the garage!