A Short Pandemic Tale, and Flowers

We committed social gathering yesterday. 6 people, four fully vaccinated, 2 partially, all of a generation fully cognizant of the risks and generally sensible people, but with the frustration, grief and monotony of the past 14 months getting the better of us, we were like kids let loose in the inflatable bouncing house to play.

One of us had endured her quarantine last year in Chile. Visiting her granddaughter for her wedding, she and her daughter, mother of the bride, were stuck there for three months. The Chilean government initiated an extreme lockdown, arresting people who were found to be more than several miles from their known address. My friends’ daughter and grandaughter marched her up and down the driveway everyday for exercise. She and her daughter were not allowed to leave the property, while the rest of the family did the grocery shopping and visited the farmacia, the only errands anyone was allowed to perform. On one of these errands, my friend’s grandson-in law was detained by the police on the way back—his driving license had his Santiago address. He was lucky to be released, according to the rest of the family.

Despite all this, the family was generous, the food delicious, and the grandkids took the initiative to clear paths for my friend and her daughter to walk in two vacant lots flanking the property. I received several photographs of these outings. The most frightening part of her journey, however, was the Miami Airport on her return, where US customs officers packed passengers ,many without masks, into areas where social distancing was impossible. And she felt quite affronted by how the agents treated non-citizens upon arrival, delaying, rifling through luggage, and waved each American through with little hassle.

Another of our friends, who, with her husband, works at the Portland Public Library, spoke about how much she missed the library patrons—with a few exceptions. One young girl told her as she met her at the library door to hand over her borrowed book, that these books, borrowed from the library, was keeping her sane all the months she could not go to school.

Our sports-loving friend was celebrating the reopening of his favorite Albany venue, named appropriately, the Linger Longer Bar.

The husband and I kept telling ourselves that the necessary restrictions did not change much—masks in Costco, masks hanging from the car’s little transmission toggle, masks in every pocket, masks in the doctor’s office, masks in the few—very few—open restaurants and taverns, then taken off while eating. So that made our first gathering all the more significant, showing us how much we had missed this past year.

For a bit of distraction from the above rather sober musings, visit my website where you can browse a few flowers like this one:

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About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

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A Short Pandemic Tale, and Flowers — 2 Comments

  1. I am looking forward to my first maskless meeting with old friends. We wore them to visit the accountant to sign tax forms. First greeting “We’re fully vaxxed.” “Great, so am I. Take your masks off.” But she did have a plexiglass shield and extra space between her and us. And she did whip out the disinfectant wipes as soon as we got up to leave. She never used to lock her car when park in front of her office–it’s a small town. Now she does because of the bottle of wipes in the back seat. It’s the most valuable thing she owns.

  2. Thanks, Jill. Your story of the lockdown in Chile resonated in a chilling way with me. When my former husband and I owned a farm in southern Chile, the memory of the Pinochet Regime and all the people who had been “disappeared” was all too fresh with many of our friends there. The people on the adjoining farm didn’t like us moving in because they had been using our land to run their sheep, so they denounced us to the military police, who woke us in the middle of the night with assault weapons. I could go on…. In short, we weren’t a good fit there, even though it’s a beautiful country and we had some terrific friends. With all our problems in the U.S., especially the inequities, we still enjoy a lot of rights and freedoms many don’t possess.

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