I’ve never been “afraid” of Friday the 13th. A few dates fall each year and I just chuckle at the inevitable barrage of memes. But thanks to COVID, the day now has a totally different meaning.
Friday, March 13 was exactly one year ago. And it is the day that officially kicked off my counting of the Year of COVID, making today, Saturday, March 13, the one-year anniversary.
That day, I got up early to get things done, instead of sleeping in like usual. I’d been hearing rumblings from some friends “in the know” that Governor Cuomo was going to announce a statewide shutdown on that day. I had also been keeping an eye on the situation out West, especially because my sister lives in the Seattle area. I wanted to make sure I was prepared.
First stop was Price Rite. I was worried about not having food available, so I stocked up on a month’s worth of groceries, trying to be as frugal as possible. I just couldn’t find my needed toilet paper.
Second stop was to the liquor store in the same parking lot. I bought a jug of my beloved Brady’s, which is a cheaper and almost tastier version of Bailey’s. The store owners were already making preparations, wearing masks, etc. They are from China, so I knew they knew what they were doing. I was also a little worried about them because the strong anti-Asian sentiment was already gaining traction. They are two of the nicest people I have ever met.
My next stop was the laundromat. I had every single ounce of bedding and blankets in my car so that I could get them all washed at once and be ready to go for however many weeks.
Stop number four was my neighborhood bar and grill next door. I figured it would be a few weeks before I could eat there again and see my friends and acquaintances. We all sat around, speculating on what was going to happen.
I started to get nervous as the place filled up with more and more people. I had already been trying to avoid larger groups of people, especially those downplaying the virus, for a week already. I was debating staying or leaving when I got a text message letting me know that my one job would be closing down, effective immediately, with no known return date. No work at that one means no pay, and also not eligible for unemployment.
I said goodbye to everyone and wished them well and drove the two blocks home. As soon as I pulled into my driveway, my phone was ringing. PM office job, closing effective immediately. I burst into tears, because that was another huge income hit. The governing board was all there, with me on speaker phone, reassuring me that we would figure out something.
And thus began my weird hybrid year of working even more from home and a couple of days in person, usually alone, to do the things that cannot be done from home. And I was fortunate that both offices were able to pay me normal hours.
I went into the offices two days a week to check the email I couldn’t access from home and to gather mail so that we could still deposit our donations and pay our bills. It’s amazing how those bills continued. I also wiped down everything as soon as I walked in the door because I just didn’t trust people. I actually had more people come in to visit me at the AM job that first week of shutdown than I had the entire two previous months combined.
I became relatively content with the quiet, seeing a couple people when necessary – at a distance – each week. And I worked hard at ramping up my freelance work as much as possible.
Now let’s fast-forward to the next Friday the 13th of note, exactly 8 months later. That was the infamous day that I was unknowingly exposed to and contracted COVID.
8 months. I had made it 8 months.
And now here we are, four months later, on the one-year anniversary of my personal COVID countdown. Today, Saturday, March 13, also marks 16 weeks since my symptoms began. It was been a strange, strange year, with lots of ups and downs. I know you all are feeling the same.
I’ve already shared parts of my story and still have more to come. The story isn’t over yet. I encourage you to also share yours. Thank you for reading along.