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Virus Without Borders: Chapter Eleven

What We Have



Sometimes we don't know what we have until we've lost it.

Governor Cuomo, at his press conference, 4/17/2020



Our Governor, our leader-in-chief right now, our emotional intelligence mentor, our protector and kindred spirit, someone I'd like to invite to a dinner party, or take with me on a long walk and talk, not alone necessarily, though I know some of my single friends wouldn't mind. (They will have to stand in line.) He was talking about his mother, how he's beginning to realize what is most important, how being busy is no excuse for cancelling a date with her, or postponing a date with her. He is never going to do that again.

So we're learning, right? And not just about pathogens and pandemics, but about the goodness coursing through all of us and, more importantly, perhaps, intentional goodness, the act of kindness, paying attention to what we have, reaching out, volunteering, meeting our responsibilities, leaning out the window and singing in an ensemble of community spirit. The possibilities are endless, they will never end, even when this particular pandemic is over.

I understand all this, I see it clearly. But to be the recipient of someone else's kindness is harder for me. I don't know why. Maybe because I'm always observing, recording in my journalist's brain, peripheral to the action, on the outside looking in. Then, suddenly, I'm on the inside looking out, and it's #inthistogether.

I was at the mall waiting for my young volunteer writer friend, Sara, to load my groceries into the trunk. I waved goodbye from inside the car, window up, my new isolation chamber, and whammo, my battery was dead. I called AAA but they never came. Desperate, I called a friend, and then my mechanic, and when my friend arrived quickly, I called the mechanic to say not to come, but they both arrived at the same time. My friend, Alan, my mechanic, Billy. The battery charged immediately so we chatted in the sun for a bit, six feet apart, and then they were gone. My heart was full. I was grateful.

Days later, when I took the car in for an oil change and battery check, Billy's wife, Rose, who works in the office, refused to charge me for Billy's trip to the mall. So let me, at least, give Franz Auto, named after Billy Franz, a much deserved bump here: Route 32 North, New Paltz, NY. If you get there, say hello to everyone for me, especially their adorable black lab, Remy.


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