Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Little did we know...!

Mel had a post today about how the coronavirus crept into her life and into the pages of her journal last year. 

I have a post in the works that I'm intending to publish on or around March 12th, marking one year of pandemic life -- but it's interesting to look back on the days leading up that point too.  I don't keep a journal, but I have my datebook, my blog posts and some Facebook Memories to prod my memory.  Here are a few things I've found that show how the oncoming pandemic began creeping its way into our consciousness and then into our lives in a very big way... 

  • Saturday, Jan. 25th, dh & I attended a curator's lecture at the opening of a major exhibit celebrating the centenary of Canada's Group of Seven (artists) at a gallery near where we live, where I have a membership. We arrived just before the lecture began and by the time it was over, it was almost closing time, so we didn't actually get to tour the exhibit that day. I figured we'd return in a few weeks' time, once the initial crowds died down. The best laid plans...! The gallery shut down in mid-March, along with almost everything else, and didn't reopen until later that summer (with capacity restrictions, mask requirements and timed ticketing in place, among other measures). It's been closed again since mid-December and is reopening tomorrow. We still haven't been back.  
  • Jan. 29th, a post popped up in my Facebook memories from the same day, 2020. It was an article from the New York Times, about the importance of handwashing in avoiding the coronavirus. (The reporter had covered SARS in China in 2003.)  I reshared it with the comment, "I think this must be my first post from last year about COVID-19... We had NO idea what was about to hit us, did we??!" 
  • Feb. 1st, BIL called us to come over:  a couple of dh's cousins had come over to see Little Great-Nephew (then just 11 weeks old), bearing gifts. I'm glad we went; we don't see them very often these days, and we haven't seen them since then (even though some live nearby). 
  • The first mention of COVID-19 (albeit not by that name) in this blog came on Feb. 2. In my monthly "Right now" post under "Trying," I wrote, "Trying: To remember to wash my hands more frequently, especially after we've been out & about, in view of the corona virus outbreak (as well as the regular cold & flu season)."   
  • Feb. 9th last year, I posted on Facebook, "Just started watching the Four Continents figure skating competition on NBC (from Seoul, South Korea)... Kind of freaky to see almost the entire audience wearing masks!!"  I reshared it with the comment, "Little did we know...!!"   
  • Feb. 11th, I noted in my datebook that "Hamilton" began its run at a downtown theatre. I had snagged tickets for May 9th earlier in the fall, after a tense morning online...! (Performances were cancelled after mid-March; I still have my tickets, hoping to get first dibs on any new tickets if/when the production returns...!)  
  • Friday, Feb. 21st, I had an appointment at a downtown hospital for a mammogram. I remember, even then, thinking about the morning rush hour crowds on the subway and germs... and I remember thinking that oh well, I would be getting on at the very last stop at the end of the line and it likely wouldn't be too crowded until further towards downtown.  
    • So I was kind of surprised to see more than the usual number of people on the platform, getting onto the train with me... and more and more people piling on at every stop. It got very crowded, very quickly -- much more so than I had anticipated. People were chatting to each other in excited voices. Then I noticed some of them were carrying flags, signs and banners. And then it clicked:  the provincial teachers' union had called a one-day strike that day, and (naturally), they were gathering en masse to protest at the legislature building -- a block away from the hospital I was going to! So much for avoiding germs...!  
    • Even so, I went to the Eaton Centre mall for a while after my appointment. (I did leave a little earlier than I had planned, trying to avoid running into the protesters again on their return trip home...!) That's the last time I was in downtown Toronto... 
  • Monday, Feb. 24th was my library book club meeting. We were discussing the actor Bryan Cranston's memoir, "A Life in Parts" (reviewed here).  That was the last time we met to date. :(  
  • Friday morning, Feb. 28th, we drove to our old community for haircuts at a salon at the mall (where we'd been customers for the past 15+ years) with our regular stylist (of the past three years, since our previous longtime stylist became ill and then died).  
    • We didn't know it at the time but a few days later, the owner announced she'd be closing the salon as of April 1st (not realizing that the closing date would come a whole lot sooner, because of COVID.) We wouldn't get another cut until June 26th, 17 weeks later (!) -- same stylist, at a different salon in the area. 
  • In my March 1st "Right now" blog post, under "Trying" I wrote: "Trying: To remember to wash my hands more frequently, especially after we've been out & about, in view of the corona virus outbreak (as well as the regular cold & flu season). (I gave this same answer last month, but unfortunately it's more relevant now than ever...!)" 
  • One year ago today, on March 3rd, in a post titled "Corona (not the beer),"  I mused about my past experiences living through emergency situations & health crises, including SARS (2003) and the H1N1 virus (2009), and the steps we were already taking to stock up on supplies, etc.  By that point, Purell and face masks were nowhere to be found, but I mention stocking up on Staples, buying more Lysol wipes and spray cleaner, Tylenol and cold pills, and essential oils remedies (!). 
  • Saturday, March 7th, is what I think of as "The Last Normal Saturday Night."  We planned to try a new Italian restaurant with BIL, SIL, Older Nephew, his wife & Little Great-Nephew, and then head across the city (in two cars) to see stepMIL & her family. Of course we didn't have a reservation, and the restaurant was booked solid. We tried another Italian restaurant which was also packed with at least an hour's wait for a table. (Observing the mobs of people going in & out and hanging outside on the sidewalk, I remember remarking wryly to dh, "Pandemic? What pandemic? These people don't seem to be too worried...")  We wound up at another restaurant nearby.  Little Great-Nephew sat on his mom's lap and observed her meal with great interest, lol. That's the last time I was in a restaurant.  
    • After that, we had a nice visit with stepMIL & family. Traditionally, Italians greet each other & depart with embraces & kisses on both cheeks -- but this time, stepSIL said, "Ummm, are we gonna do this...?"  We agreed it probably wasn't a good idea!  That's the last time we saw all of them. 
  • Monday morning, March 9th, I had a voice mail message from a high school friend from out of town, who was going to be meeting up with her sister for a few days in Toronto (kind of a halfway point between where they both lived). She wanted to know if I wanted to come downtown to join them for lunch on Wednesday or Thursday. I knew her sister too, and normally I would have loved the opportunity to see them both and catch up, but it was already a busy week, I was starting to feel like I might be coming down with a cold (or...??), and I had the distinct feeling that another trip downtown and back on the subway might not be a wise idea at this point... I sent her a message declining the invitation. 
  • In the "it never rains but it pours" category, ANOTHER old friend from Manitoba messaged me later that same day to let me know her husband had surprised her with a birthday trip to Toronto to see Les McKeown and the Bay City Rollers (a band we'd both been wild about in our teen years, lol) on Wednesday night (March 11th). She had an extra ticket, and would I like to come too??  All the same reasoning applied (plus, a crowded concert hall filled with screaming, singing middle-aged women??) -- plus I'd already turned down one invitation for that day;  I didn't think I could accept another. I turned her down too. 
  • As it turned out, Wednesday, March 11th was also the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic... 
    • By this point, the pandemic was definitely front and centre in my consciousness:  the blog post I published that day was titled "Odds & ends: The coronavirus edition." I noted that my beloved world figure skating championships (being held in Montreal -- I had toyed with the idea of going...) had already been cancelled, and that Pearl Jam had cancelled its concert tour, including a date in Toronto on March 18th. 
I'll save the rest of my "one year later" remembrances and reflections for my upcoming post...

1 comment:

  1. Hard to believe it's been a year. Hard to imagine that you haven't been in a restaurant for a year. Hard to believe you haven't seen so many family members since then - or hugged them. Virtual hugs aren't the same, but I'm sending some nonetheless.