Being quarantined is like driving with your family at night when the government turns off your headlights.
First, you realize you must pull over because you don’t want to be stopped by an invisible tree or police officer.
The rest is endless waiting and the push and shove of group activity in a very contained space.
The driver instantly loses authority and the backseat gets more and more unruly. (This is an absolute truth.)
Actually, the seat belt is unbuckled for everybody.
There can be no consensus about the radio so it gets turned off.
Out come the cell phones, as people start thinking for themselves rather than for others, but there is no privacy so out come the headphones and the binge watching begins in strange existential silence.
Am I really watching “The Tiger King”?
The world outside the car is the enemy anyway, because no one can dress up to confront it. And worse, if they do, they must wear face masks and plastic gloves, which ruins the grooming and manicure.
As hope for alternatives disappear (“alternatives” are recognized to no longer be available), as a last resort we are confronted by our family and friends and the question:
“How did they happen?”
“Why did we end up in this car?”
It is not by accident.
Back when I was growing up in New England, the entire Northeast had a black out and nine months later the birth rate spiked!
You chose it. I don’t mean birth order—I mean you chose to get in the car. Is this car the architecture in which we chose to spend our precious time? Maybe? What are traffic jams anyway?
So why do cars have backseats? For procreation and the storage of loose children?
And this is who we end up with when the lights go out?
Oddly, as if by miracle, these strangers must be eventually confronted and recognized.
At different times for each of the people in the car, during their own moment of silence, something is recognized.
It is that you belong to them and they belong to you.
It happened to me. I am fortunate, and a little surprised to realize the “unexpected” has broken my status quo and given me an opportunity to get out of the car as a different person than when I got in it.
I am fortunate to have the friends and the wonderful extended family which I have.
But I had my moment.
I learned I don’t just want to travel with them. I want to appreciate them and not take them ever for granted and forget for a moment how much I love them again and again and again…
And why The Tiger King should probably end up in solitary.