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No Vacation For The Wicked

July 27, 2020

I will not ride a bicycle this year. Or swim. Or canoe, kayak or read a book. Or eat a stick of bacon.

COVID19 Kills. And reveals and wrecks entitlements.

5 days before we were to leave for my annual One Week Off, we found out, through internet clicking (not through anything anyone sent to us) that COVID19 Rules extended to us, the mask-wearing, social distancing, priviledged elderly.

The State of Vermont declared that anyone entering the state from any other state’s county that has had more than 400 new cases in the previous week must have sequestered for two weeks or a single week with a negative COVID test directly prior to the visit. We checked with our beloved (and extremely expensive) Annual Sanatorium, and, well, yes. The sworn certificate testifying to our compliance was to be filled out “under penalty of perjury” was a requirement to hand over to our Shangdi La upon check in before we spent all that money. Well, the rest of it, after we had already sent a large deposit in November.

We live in New Haven County. It had new 519 cases last week. Two miles from our home, just across the Hammonassett River, the neighboring county has under 400 cases, and we could drive gleefully north. No matter that Connecticut declared “Construction” (including “Design”) “Essential” – accurately enough that I have not gone to the office for a total of 4 days out of the last 140. 3 of them so I that I could do the COVID Chores that have filled these months. We have no cancellations of work we had as architects and many new things to do of all types – pro bono Good Works and Full Homes and tiny projects. And I met a dozen payrolls, and payroll taxes. And paid our bills. I applied for no loans, but did receive some printed dollars, invented by congress, and a return of $57 from my auto insurance.

So living in my office, 95% of the time alone, going to construction meetings in masks, 2 meters apart, plus endless Zoom calls, and receiving and sending drawings to and from 6 full time employees in over 200 emails a day, plus scores of remotely sent printings – with everyone working from home – until a few, for some days, in the last two weeks – has proven that even a week’s sequester could not have happened, no matter when we found out about it. I had two monthly gas fill ups and once a week since then. We followed the rules.

So rather than lie, we do not have a vacation for the first time in 25 years.

We started this with 3 and 5 year old children – going “for them” – me with some plague I think may have been walking pneumonia, and found Bliss. We did any number of work-arounds to get those 7 days off, even working through 3 office faxes a day while there in the first decade, dozens of emails all the day long after that.

But I ate three meals a day (versus 1.25 normally) worked out 3 Times a day, often for over 6 hours, so that my BMI remained in the “Low Obese Range”. I would buy 4 or 6 books and read several chapters in a few of them. I would simply not be in the office. I could ride a bike, swim, kayak, canoe, just sit in the sun.

When our sons left we continued on as a couple (they demurred return). And it had become the Ritual neither my wife and I had growing up in truly sad families. A reality that meant the random weeks off, several times in my first 40 years seemed like ubdeserved islands of obtainment, not part of our lives.

I know thus means the next 365 days will be different following a “No Vacation Year” – 15 years ago, after enormous prep in a very tough time creating drawings for a large, important, project, I had set up a hard schedule hand-in-glove with two employees. A first, highly prepped, all important deadline simply went unaddressed in my absence, no communication. When the the weekending employees returned on the Monday that kicked off my vacation week, I fired the employee (who despite a decade working for me had missed other deadlines after oathing, well in advance, that all was understood), and nearly fired his manager. So I took over, remotely. Vacation over.

But I lost the week to being virtually in my office from my computer while at the place that was once a retreat, that now now been invaded.

Over the next year I realized that I was essentially worn out sooner, longer and with less humor, until the Next Week Off.

I know, “Boo Hoo, poor white priviledged jackass” – true that. The tiny violins are playing. After an hour of learning that there would be no vacation I began setting up a schedule for next week that had been defered, and at 64 I know that this one week will be remembered for the comically selfish reasons of those who are not sick, make enough money to pay the bills and have a family.

No, I deserve none of it, either way. I earned none of the health, or really even the money we have, let alone finding a place that “fit”. I, and you, were given these things, because we are alive to have them. Life is given to us by things we cannot explain, so when it is threated, millions of the best and the brightest are struggling to understand one tiny virus, in order to prevent it from infecting us. For half a year. With no solution, just an accute understanding that we only know what we know.

I will be more exhausted in these next months, but who cares?

Not COVID19.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Beverly S permalink
    July 27, 2020 1:19 pm

    So sad to hear this. I hope you and your wife can have a plan B. We all need time to unplug and recharge with other pastimes and activity. Be well Deo. I enjoyed your recent radio hour by the way. Bev S

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