Aspen Princess: Head in the sand, no; toes in the sand, yes |

Aspen Princess: Head in the sand, no; toes in the sand, yes

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

“Do we have any cough drops?” I asked Ryan last night just before bed.

“Why do you need a cough drop?” he asked, doing nothing to hide the skepticism in his tone. “You’re not sick. Stop it.”

He wasn’t being a jerk; my husband knows me well enough to see my symptoms were most definitely psychosomatic. My throat felt raw and sore just from reading about coronavirus.

I don’t know what it is about this decade so far, but it feels like the world has gone completely mad. Like, it’s all happening. Right now. Simultaneous chaos percolates beneath the surface of the Earth, brewing and stirring just enough that you can feel it vibrate. That’s probably not good.

First there’s the political climate, which is starting to feel like a bad joke. Staring at my ballot on Super Tuesday, wielding my mighty black pen, I hesitated. “A Jew, a gay guy and a billionaire walk into a bar,” I thought as I stared at the little blank ovals next to names that didn’t thrill me. My two favorite candidates had already dropped out of the race. It also seems like we have devolved into a strategic presidential election, not voting for the person whose values and agenda you believe in but because of their “electability” in the post-traumatic environment that is Life After Hillary. I really liked Buttigieg and was hoping for some young blood, a Kennedyesque candidate who could carry the momentum and passion of the next generation, the poor young souls who are left with all the mess. These old guys, meh. At least my county (Eagle) voted for Sanders. Pitkin went for Bloomberg. I’ll hold my tongue on that one.

Then there’s this horrible virus that’s spreading around the world like the wildfires that burned down half of Australia. I’m trying not to get too swept up in the panic of this possible pandemic, but considering we’re leaving the country, like, tomorrow, I had fallen into the rabbit hole that is Google. Ryan knew what I was up to, perched at the dining room table as he and Levi curled up on the couch watching some animated movie on TV. He could see the screen reflected in my oversized glasses.

Here’s what I learned so far: This virus is airborne so a mask won’t protect you, but the only way you can get it is if you touch your nose and mouth, so at least a mask can keep you from doing that. It only lives on surfaces for 20 minutes, but you should still wipe everything down with an alcohol wipes, even though alcohol wipes tend to just spread the germs around and washing your hands is the best thing to do. You should stay at least 6 feet away from people, especially if they’re coughing. But if you’re in the confines of an airplane, you’re pretty much screwed. Did I mention you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds? Yeah. Do that a lot.

Speaking of airplanes, it’s not advisable to travel right now, especially to go out of the country since there’s always the chance you might not be able to get back in. I read one article that suggested if you do have to go abroad, make sure you have your will in order and bring at least a three-month supply of prescription medications with you.

I mean, if we do catch it, we probably won’t die from it. If we can’t get back to the U.S., we have a place to stay in Costa Rica for as long as we need, and we can get money electronically, right? That way, Ryan can take a little sabbatical, we can learn Spanish, and Levi can play soccer with the local Tico club and make some new friends. My brother’s property has plenty of banana trees and is surrounded by coffee plantations, so we won’t starve and will always be able to start the day with a good strong cup of joe. I can always work remotely, right? We can arm ourselves with disinfectant wipes and zinc throat lozenges and hand sanitizer and hope for the best. I’m not going to let some pandemic get in between me and my long-awaited beach vacation, damnit!

It’s ironic when you think about it. On the one hand we’ve got this dictator who creates his own reality based on whatever asinine statement he makes or tweets and then on other we’ve got this never-before-seen virus that will depend entirely on science to understand and combat it. There’s also the fact that there’s no way to deny this science like all the others that are killing people, albeit a little more slowly.

Meanwhile, in the midst of all this chaos, I have never felt better. I don’t know if it’s because I thrive on danger and it kind of excites me in a way that has paid the salary of more than one psychologist or if it’s because I’ve been hitting the gym, eating well, doing yoga and snowboarding more this season than I have in years. It could also be the fact that the other day, I followed my kid from the top of Buttermilk to the bottom and realized I was skiing at my usual speed — and that he was skiing that fast, even a little faster, than me.

I read one post from a doctor who wrote about the virus outbreak, “don’t put your head in the sand on this one,” with a list of things to do proactively to be prepared. “Don’t travel” was at the top of his list.

Still, we have to go on living. It’s hard to grasp the concept of a threat in our little bubble of entitlement. I guess at the end of the day if we’re all going to die, I might as well do it on a beach in Costa Rica.

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