“Day 2. Friday, March 13, 2020.
I’ve been living in Berkeley for almost 12 years, and one of my first impressions of this city is that nothing ever happens. It is not that it’s a boring place, or that it doesn’t have a vibrant social or artistic life (we’re 20 minutes from SF), but when you grow up in Caracas, where the normality index is defined by the percentage of uncertainty, the ability to be surprised decreases considerably. In Venezuela, the way of calculating the “Population Density” could be rethought. In essence, it would be the result of calculating the number of inhabitants in an area who are victims of an unthinkable event in relation to a given surface unit. And this area could be just 5 miles. Trust me. It would be high. And perhaps we would start calling it “Depopulation Density.” Hence my poor bewilderment ability and my annoying way of dismissing any event that bothers my dear American friends as ” A First World Problem.” Please forgive me.
Friday starts easy. Having to wake up only just of the boys makes the morning particularly shiny, especially when the one who’s sleeping in is the teenager. The one who goes to Middle School is excited: he thinks that the Spring Break is coming early. And he still has his hand sanitizer! I drop him off at a school where it doesn’t seem like they are preparing for three weeks without classes: good for them. Children do not need to feel that panic.
I decide not to go to my yoga class and innocently drive to Costco to make sure I get my weekly fix of Coke Zero and Red Bull (don’t judge me). Up until then, I hadn’t realized I was suffering from Venezuelan PTSD; then l I saw the cars trying to get into the Costco exit and panicked. I am only able to calm down after confirming that the gas supply is entirely healthy. At pick up time, the boys say goodbye to each other like any given Friday. I come home and my teenage son already has cabin fever. Luckily, children are not aware of their own mortality. Not even their vulnerability. So not being able to go out and play with his friends sounds like I’m punishing him. And he doesn’t understand what he did to deserve that.
I’m grasping to the last straws of normality: families make plans to go skiing over the weekend because it’s finally going to snow on this side of California. I check the condition of the roads, and if there are chain controls. It’s my way to stay in touch with real life.
Oh, and I’m already missing the fact that nothing happens in Berkeley.