Traveling In The Time Of Pandemic

Happy Giving Tuesday! You lovely jerks made me put up once again. Thank you all who donated to my Odd Salon fundraiser, we blew past $1,000 and are on our way to $2,000! While my $1K check is in the mail, if you haven’t donated yet, perhaps consider donating so I can double my goal? Only $350 remains!

Well, my poppets, we’ve made it to the last calendar month of 2020, though I imagine it won’t be the last spiritual month of 2020 until we’ve got that vaccine in hand and in arm. And while I, like most of you, cannot wait for this godforsaken year to just quit it already, there’s still much to be grateful for, like great coffee and sitting in my parents’ basement. 

This past Friday, for the first time since February, I boarded a plane. A couple of months ago, I decided that I would spend the entire month of December in Calgary so that I could be close to my family for the holidays. Canada, what with its functional COVID-19 response and, you know, government that cares, instituted a mandatory 14 day quarantine very early into the pandemic, and I knew that if I wanted to be able to be physically close to my parents, I’d need to squirrel away for that time before I could actually give them a hug.

Traveling was difficult for many reasons. First, the guilt. As all of you lovely readers know, I have been diligent about social distancing, which for me has meant spending the vast majority of the last nearly-nine months alone. I’ve opted to help halt the spread by doing the most effective thing: preventing any chance of person-to-person transmission by spending my days talking to my plants and many of you on Zoom. Deciding to travel, especially as the third wave of COVID crashes against the U.S., was a difficult one.

Second, travel itself was hell. Thanks to friend of the Missive Kate, I had alllllll the gear: I wore a KN95 mask under a surgical mask, goggles, a mask shield, long sleeves and gloves for nearly all of the trip, only removing them when outdoors or to eat while tucked in a corner of the airport on a layover. I carried wipes that reeked like bad tequila (seriously manufacturers, can you figure out that third carbon filtration step? Kthxbai) and did my best to avoid other humans, which was hard to do when LAX, where I had a layover, was a zoo. I used to love travel— I even used to love business travel!—but seeing as many people in the airport as a normal Friday afternoon was frightening. 

And finally, experiencing the otherworldly difference in federal response to the virus between my home and adopted country was heartbreaking. Before I even flew, I was required to register my arrival with the Canadian government, download an app and attest that I had no symptoms. When I landed in Canada, I once again had to state I had no symptoms, providing the address at which I planned to quarantine for 14 days, and then agree to fully participate in contact tracing, which involves reporting one’s symptoms (or lack thereof, in my case, thankfully) into the app. Yesterday, I got a spot check call from the government confirming that I went straight from the airport to my residence, and to attest that I was not leaving the property or having visitors. If I do not participate, there are ramifications under the Quarantine Act. Canada has a test and trace program that involves a shorter quarantine period being tested in Calgary, where they COVID swab you at the airport, report your test results three days later, require you to get another test, and then let you loose once you get a negative on that one too, but I was ineligible because my parents are in a higher-risk group. 

Every step of the way, I know that the Canadian federal government believes that COVID is real, masks work, and that for everyone’s individual health we must take care of the collective body. Meanwhile, in the US… not so much. My heart breaks for us Americans, and especially for the medical and public health workers, some of whom subscribe to this Missive and wake up every day to care for us why realizing that there are those in federal power who are willfully countering their efforts. 

So for the next 10 days, I report to you, dear reader, from the beautiful built-out basement of my parents, a space larger than my apartment in San Francisco with my mother’s treadmill and all of my Dad’s guitars. I am lucky: I can work from anywhere and I’m having delicious meals left outside my door, so I have nothing to complain about in the slightest. All things considered, I am happy, though I won’t rest easy until I’m through the 14 days and know that I—and therefore my parents—are out of the danger zone.

Thanks for listening. Don’t worry, if you’ve read this far, there are links below. 

Take care of each other, mmmkay? And wear a darned mask, please.

xoxo Amy