From becoming infected to dealing with all that is coronavirus, this journalist has had it!
By Mike Costanza
OK, it’s time to say it: I’m going nuts.
Now, this is not the kind of crazy that might lead me to run through my Rochester neighborhood in nothing but a facemask. If you see a bearded man standing on the corner of Goodman and East Avenue carrying a “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH” sign, it won’t be me.
I don’t have a beard. Ditto if he’s howling from the top of the South Avenue Garage. Court Street’s onramp has better acoustics. You should try it before the traffic returns.
Not that I don’t feel like driving downtown for a yell or two. You see, this freelance reporter hasn’t had real, in-person contact with anyone since March. Early March.
My self-isolation began with a bout of pneumonia. Next came COVID-19, which is particularly dangerous for those like me, who have preexisting health conditions. Then, New York state’s PAUSE order forced every one of my favorite Rochester hangouts to close. At least they aren’t shuttered. They don’t have shutters.
As a result, I’ve spent months talking to tinny voices on the phone or two-dimensional faces on my computer screen. That, and I’ve been counting the walls of my living room, dining room and office. No matter what time of day or night, there are still just four of them.
You’d think they would multiply, or something. I’d give anything to walk in from my bedroom and television room some morning and say “Hey, there are six now!” The dust bunnies under my desk go at it, well, like bunnies, so why can’t my walls? What, are they lazy or just too old for that sort of thing?
Tired of waiting on the walls, I decided to count the blessings that will come — and they will come — as COVID-19 retreats.
When normalcy returns
I look forward to a time when:
— My grocery store no longer looks as if it’s hosting a bank robbers’ convention.
— I can take in a double feature at the Cinema Theater again. I don’t care what’s playing, as long as my seat is, uh, there.
— No one gives me a look when I traipse down University Avenue without a mask.
— Maria Gillard once more breaks into song in the Little Café. Sing out, Maria!
— Three cars no longer constitute heavy traffic.
— I can pet the dogs taking their owners out for a walk. Big, small, brown, white, black, smelly — I don’t care. All I need is a wagging tail and a “pet me” look. From the dog, I mean.
— Children again fill my neighborhood’s vest-pocket park with their laughter.
— I no longer begin my conversations with “I hope you and all around you are healthy.
— The tables at Dogtown are packed once more. I love the “German Shepherd,” but hold the onions.
— I can shake my friends’ hands again.
Many others in the Rochester area have suffered much more than I have from COVID-19, or its economic and social effects. I’ve covered the story, and feel for them. Whatever our current burdens, I hope we can keep in mind that every virus eventually runs its course. Until then, I hope all of us will practice sensible safety measures, try to keep our heads above water, and remain as optimistic as we can.
Oh, and that guy on Main Street with the shaved head and purple face paint? That’s not me, either. Yet.
Photo: The author at his apartment on North Goodman Street. “My self-isolation began with a bout of pneumonia. Next came COVID-19, which is particularly dangerous for those like me, who have preexisting health conditions.”