This past weekend, I flew to Philadelphia to spend a long-planned weekend with my younger daughter. We had originally intended to enjoy the Art Museum, dining out, and some quality mother-daughter time, to mark her birthday next week. I was also going as her support for a medical diagnostic procedure on Monday. But with the intensifying spread of COVID-19, the decision to travel was complex.
Driving to Philly from our home takes a good six hours. The flight takes under an hour from our local airport, which is a ten minute drive from our house. Under normal circumstances, it’s a no-brainer.
But flying is now fraught with worries about the risks of picking up the coronavirus in public spaces—and spreading it to others. My daughter was quite concerned for my health and willing to postpone my visit. I, however, was not willing to give up so easily.
Ultimately, after conferring with my long-time rheumatologist about my risks of dealing with the virus, and given that I have no coronavirus symptoms, nor have I knowingly come in contact with anyone who has traveled abroad to hot spots, I decided that I would make the trip. I took extra precautions, wearing latex gloves in the airport and on the plane, wiping down my seat belt, arm rests and head rest with disinfectants, not using the tray table. The flight is on a small American Eagle jet, and it was only a third full both ways, so no trouble staying three to six feet away from fellow passengers. No one was notably coughing.
I kept a wide berth from other travelers as I walked through and waited in airports. My daughter picked me up in Philly on Friday, and I sat a safe distance from my congenial Lyft driver on the way to the airport Monday afternoon. (I gave him a good tip, because business is understandably slow.) Al was waiting for me when my flight arrived back home.
Over the weekend, we had a very meaningful mother-daughter visit, with some important conversations about what’s happening and what could happen, a talk that could only occur in person. We ate in, took a sunny walk around the Art Museum (which was closed) and along part of the Schuylkill River Trail, did some sewing and crafts, and binge-watched Netflix series. I took her to her medical appointment, and, thankfully, all went well. Given all the uncertainty about travel in coming weeks and months, it was all the more important to visit now, when it was still possible.
Back here in Massachusetts, schools and universities are closed, restaurants and bars shuttered except for take out, and many people are now telecommuting. Public gatherings are restricted to no more than 25 people. My synagogue is closed, though conducting daily minyan via Zoom. My dentist is closed except for emergencies over the next few weeks. My weaving studio is on hiatus. My German classes are canceled this week and shifting to online next week. My gym is closed. Grocery stores and pharmacies are exempt from these restrictions, so far. Al’s work has shifted to a hybrid of work-from-home and in-person visits to his social work clients. I am well-accustomed to working from home, so my daytime schedule is status quo. Others are not so fortunate.
I’m sure that you, Dear Reader, are experiencing similar disruptions. None of us knows what is next. All I know is that I’m glad I went to see my daughter while I still could, and I’m glad I’m back home.