To go or not to go? Grappling with that dilemma for months, I get tested ten days before departure to assist with the decision-making but receive no results. To go or not to go? I have masks, a face shield, blue rubber gloves, wipes and sanitizer, for protection against the unknown, unseen, virus. Is it too risky? Too foolish? Too selfish? I long for a change of scenery, the draw of the mountains that I love, the lake that I know so well. To go or not to go?
I go. Everything seems foreign. On Wednesday, during what used to be the early morning commute, the BART parking lot has few cars. I take the train to the airport. Those on board are wearing masks. No one makes eye contact, all looking down at their phones. SFO is like a ghost town. No lines; no waits. The plane is empty. Juliet sits in the adjacent seat. The remainder of our row as well as rows behind and in front of us are vacant. I am masked and shielded, feeling confined and mute. With my wipe, I methodically scour every surface I might conceivably touch. There are no other aircraft waiting on the tarmac for takeoff. It is as though the traveling world as I have experienced it has vanished.
In advance, I vow not to eat or drink. Hungry, I reconsider and consume the pb&j sandwich I packed just in case. I pull down the mask and leave the shield in place. Each time I go to take a bite, I hit the shield instead of my mouth. In order to drink from my small bottle of water, a gift from the airline, I have to tip my head far back to get a sip. When I remove the shield briefly to relieve the headache it has caused, I notice the sticky smudges of peanut butter on the corners of the plastic.
I hold out as long as possible before deciding to make my way down the empty rows of seats to the bathroom. But just then, the seatbelt sign is suddenly illuminated, and I miss my chance. Sometime later, a flight attendant announces that there are thirty nine minutes left to the flight and the seat belt sign is turned off. I am happy to take advantage of this opportunity.
Was it worth it? We arrive in Boston in the late afternoon, the sun bright, the air cool. We take a walk beside the Garden, the Common, through Beacon Hill, the North End, Government Center. Sitting on a park bench at dusk, Juliet and I share a hearty and delicious lobster roll. Memories of the getting here recede amidst the joy of being here. Anticipation of three weeks in New Hampshire fills my heart. Yes, I believe it was worth it.