I relocated from NYC when the virus was at about 12 people infected in the city. We lived in the upper east side and everything felt every far away. Even so, Karmen and I knew the math and decided it was the right time to leave. I was concerned that they would close the city and my experience had been from my brief time in Macadonia during the Kosovo-Serbia war that you should leave before you can’t. You don’t want to be that dude that had a chance to go but decided not to.
But these conversations are strange. There is a question of paranoia. Am I being freaky? It is fueled by a sense of unreality. On the news the virus is there – on the streets (at that time in NYC) the virus isn’t ‘there’. It is a beautiful day, people out and about. It’s New York! Who wouldn’t want to be here?
But some tell tale signs started emerging – shops were not out of toilet paper, but low. Hand sanitizer had gone. At my improv class folks had conversations about M95 masks.
It was real, and the reality was starting to show.
So, we had a great weekend, trying not to talk about the situation. We ate some Shakshuka at Mellow Yellow – most amazing place and the food was exceptional. IN the cafe they played some cool music and I asked the guy who it was – atish…he was actually playing that night he said….We decided to go and check it out. So we went and saw some jazz at Tomijazz, a great Japanese jazz club, then we went to the dance party in Brooklyn to see atish. Danced out hearts out until some time in the morning.
Next Day we had a lazy day. Monday we decided to talk about the virus. Tuesday we decided to go. Wednesday we were gone.
Wednesday night they decided to close the borders to Europe from the US.
I went to NZ, Karmen wanted to see her family in Croatia and would follow me to NZ. I was worried. I was really worried they would close the borders and we wouldn’t see each other for months.
It felt tragic and unreal and paranoid and real. All at once.
I remember walking to the elevator in our building trying to pretend everything was ok. If I didn’t pretend I would have fallen apart. I remember every step of that 4m walk.
I jumped on a plane to the connecting flight in Chicago and in Chicago I got on an Air NZ plane. Whenever I jump on Air NZ I already feel at home. No time more than this. I felt some relief. It felt like I was manic. A huge swing from stressed to less-stressed. I felt like I was in a big steel NZ cocoon. The stewards were so nice, they had accents I recognised. I was home. I slept a great deal.
At Auckland airport everything was also calm. It was a sunny day. My only thought was on Karmen. Is she ok? We talked, she decided to come to NZ immediately. Thank god.
Karmen arrived Sunday, they shut the borders thursday.
And so here we are in NZ. I went into prepper mode and stocked up with everything. Including everything I needed to build a veggie garden…its coming along great! Photos coming…