It’s rather fitting I’m writing this column from my couch since this is where I will be working for the foreseeable future.
No, I don’t have the novel coronavirus, but I recently traveled to an area that has a high concentration of confirmed cases so as a precautionary measure I will be working from home for the safety of my beloved colleagues.
I went to visit my girlfriend, Adriana Torres, who lives and works in Watsonville, CA, about an hour south of San Francisco. The original purpose of my West Coast visit was to be a groomsman in my friend Dustin Turner’s Malibu wedding originally set for Friday, March 20.
If you recall, I wrote about Dustin’s bachelor party in my Jan. 29 Ty’s Take column, which recapped how I almost got stuck in Mexico thanks to American Airlines. Here’s how that column ended:
“I have yet to meet Dustin’s fiancée, Kelly, in person, but he’s told her a lot about me. The thing he told her that stands out the most about me is how I end up in absurd situations on a regular basis.
“So Kelly, I can’t control it, but I promise to try to keep my real-life TV character shenanigans to a minimum for the wedding, but let’s just collectively knock on wood.”
Clearly we didn’t knock hard enough.
They made the gut-wrenching decision to postpone the wedding a few days before I was set to fly out — because of the coronavirus; not my terrible luck — but I was already out a plane ticket, had time off and hadn’t seen Adriana in months so I decided I would still go west.
For some reason, I don’t think I should ever leave Sheldon in March. If you recall March 2019, that’s when the Midwest decided to go underwater and I also was going to see her at that time. This time around, we got shellacked by coronavirus news and closures.
I was able to post the breaking news about Gov. Kim Reynolds closing restaurants, bars and other facilities and we got The Mail-Sun and Sioux Center News done before I made my way to the airport in Sioux Falls, SD, on Tuesday, March 17.
Flying during this period was kind of surreal. Not a single one of my flights were full and most of the airports were like ghost towns in comparison to the typical hustle and bustle you see.
My original flight out of Sioux Falls to Denver was delayed twice before they put me on a flight to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where I once again had to run through the terminal to make my next flight.
I say once again because I had to do the same thing in January on my flight back from Mexico. This time was so dire they paged me over the airport’s public announcement system — imagine getting called to the principal’s office but instead of just calling your class, they called every classroom in the school district — but I made it.
I was so out of breath by the time I got to my seat I was coughing, which obviously raised some eyebrows from my fellow passengers. Again, people, I don’t have coronavirus; I’m just fat.
I also ended up on a different airline and coming home a day earlier than expected because of “mechanical issues” with my second flight, which I’m speculating had more to do with ticket sales.
California was under lockdown and shelter-in-place orders most of the time I was there, so it made traffic a breeze at least. People also still were out and about, some of whom were not abiding by the social distancing requests but still wearing masks and gloves.
Adriana also told me if I wrote about this I better tell people how good she was at taking care of us. She wiped down every surface we touched multiple times a day with antibacterial wipes, kept hand sanitizer in the car and would yell at me to wash my hands, something I was OCD about well before coronavirus. Yes, I just went hand-washing hipster on you.
She and I stayed indoors for the most part except for store runs, ordering takeout from whatever local restaurants we could find that were open — we tipped generously every time — and watching a couple of coastal sunsets.
Supporting local is important to both of us. I’m a community journalist whose livelihood is dependent on our region’s economy staying afloat and Adriana’s parents have owned and operated La Perla Del Pacifico, a Mexican seafood restaurant in Watsonville, for 30 years.
While we had grand plans as recently as two weeks ago for my visit — cute wedding selfies, slow dancing together for the first time, going to Disneyland for our anniversary, me meeting her closest uncle — coronavirus put all those things to a halt.
And to be clear, this isn’t me bellyaching about my own situation. This is a collective experience unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced.
Sure, having a beach wedding canceled sucks in a very first-world-problem-type of way, but finding out your friends are losing day-care service or your friend/barber and other small-business owners and their employees won’t have income during this time is more substantial and will have long-term ramifications.
Once we get through this — and I firmly believe we will — everyone and everything will be different. However, until then, let’s stick together, support what local businesses we can and remember to be nice to one another. Seriously, a smile will go a long way these days.