“Lock-down Diaries” is a series featuring different members of The Citizen newsroom as they go about their day while under the shelter-in-place directive.
April 13, 2020
Road trip: Oakland to Fresno (and back)
I wake up dreading another “groundhog” day of sitting around my house while mindlessly watching series after series on one streaming app or the next. I’m dreading another day of procrastination and wondering if it is a symptom of the pandemic lurking outside my window causing my delays or if this is just who I am now. Was I motivated before the world changed? Before my friend died? Was this the dread of waking up knowing that I would never be able to reconnect with a soul that I loved beyond this life?
I’m lying in bed, aimlessly scrolling through my phone, checking emails I really don’t care about, and looking at but not seeing posts on Facebook and Instagram. The sky is a gray and gloomy cloud hanging over my day’s prospects. A text comes through from my youngest daughter, Isabelle. She had recently been tested for COVID-19, so I was understandably nervous when her name popped up on my phone. Good news! She had received her test results. Negative! She was in the clear and desperate to come home.
Feeling relieved that my daughter tested negative as we jump into the car to go pick her up in Fresno and bring her home. It had been a rough few days of ER visits and anxiety. I am relieved that she is virus free but still worried about her overall health and underlying issues causing her to make multiple ER trips. This pandemic has made everything feel so unsafe and unreliable. Could you imagine getting sick with anything right now? How stressful that must be for not only the person who is sick but their family and friends as well. How many people are foregoing a trip to the ER so that they don’t overload an already overloaded healthcare system? How many people are dying because of those decisions?
The highway is mainly free of traffic, allowing us to drive without impediment. We stop at the gas station to pick up some nausea medication for Elena, my granddaughter, in Modesto. It is much warmer outside than we are dressed for. After picking up the medication for the little one, we decide to grab a snack at the McDonald’s next door. We place our order and pull up to the drive-through window. The workers are not wearing gloves or masks, and I wonder out loud if there is no threat of the virus in the Central Valley. Do people not care? Do they believe it to be a hoax? I contemplate this while we sit in an empty parking lot and eat our food. Back on the road we listen to Courtney Love of Hole. Looking out the window, the outside world seems so normal as we pass it by. The cows still graze, the sprinklers still water the crops, and the bugs still hit the windshield of the car. I begin to doze a little as the music changes to a Southern Gothic bluegrass vibe.
Two-year-old Emilia has a breakdown. She is not a fan of car rides. She kicks her shoes off and props them onto the back of my seat. She is calm now. I am feeling thrilled at the thought of having Isabelle home. Amanda, my eldest daughter, exclaims excitedly about being able to drive fast. The dramamine seems to have worked for Elena’s nausea. We are about 30 minutes from Fresno now, and I finally capture a sign referring to COVID-19 with my camera. We arrive at the Phoenix Townhomes in Fresno at 3:16 p.m.
After accomplishing the initial mission of picking up Isabelle, we moved on to our next, Walmart to pick up some medication. We decide to check the paper product situation and low and behold…they had toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues. They also had a surprising amount of customers and employees not following safety precautions, such as wearing gloves or masks, or practicing social distancing. In the parking lot, a message droned over a loudspeaker about the precautions Walmart was taking to keep everyone safe.
Isabelle’s prescriptions, 36 mega toilet paper rolls and 16 rolls of paper towels later we are on our way home to Oakland. We listen to Band of Heathens as nearly everyone falls asleep.
We arrive home and unload the treasures from our trip to the Fresno Walmart. The children are grateful to stretch their little legs. Our dog Marley greets us as we walk into the house. Her tail thwacks the wall and a smile lights up her face as she recognizes her long lost friend, Isabelle. We all collapse from the journey before preparing dinner.
We microwaved a less-than-delicious Shepherd’s pie for dinner. As we ate, we watched Good Boys and caught up on life events. Mostly we relaxed.
It is time for Marley’s walk, so Isabelle and I grab our jackets and put Marley’s leash on. Amanda, Elena and Emilia join us on our adventure. We walk to Washington Elementary School and spend a little time inside their gates while Marley and the children run free. Isabelle and I remove our shoes to ground ourselves in the cold, wet earth. It feels nice to get in touch with nature after being on the road, and hearing the children’s laughter almost brings me back to a sense of normalcy in the world.
When we return home from our walk, we light up the fire pit. We gather around the fire with marshmallows on sticks and roast them. As we eat our s’mores, Elena asks if we can tell scary stories. I suggest that we all tell a story together, each contributing a sentence for each turn. Our story begins with five campers and ends with the Scooby Gang coming to the rescue.
With the children finally tucked away, the grown folk sit around the dining room table to play the Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game while watching the show of the same name.
It is nice to be around family during such a stressful time. When I look back over the entries I’ve made today, I see how they really helped to take me away from the stress and the grieving that has been a constant this year.