Destiny, + or –

Spoiler: Eli and I both tested negative.

Predestiny. It isn’t a thing. We all have our beliefs. Some (mine) might be hurtful to others. Many people of faith view the events of life like a movie already in the can. The scenes play out as shot, no deviation from the plan. We, the actors, are along for the ride. Others see a God-like entity pulling the strings, directing the action of a film still in production. God does as s/he pleases, but a good suggestion, a well-crafted prayer, might alter script.

My beliefs—honed in no small part by the Terminator movie franchise with its catchy slogan no fate but what we make—reject the idea of a master plan. I see the universe as something of a science experiment. A collection of chemicals combined a gazillion years ago by a deity or an extraterrestrial or some other intelligent designer and then left to thrive or wither with no further interference.

Nothing can be predestined, or even foretold, because nobody, not even God, knows what will happen next.  But like everything I write, this piece is layered with inconsistencies. While I say no predestiny, my powerful sense of irony makes me believe I’m destined to catch Covid 19. I’ve been freaking out about the pandemic for more than a decade.

One of the interesting stats provided by WordPress is the list of my posts viewed on any given day. The last few posts I wrote usually get a hit and maybe more each day, and some posts with a good set of meta tags often show up on the list. The Hair Wiz, a story I wrote years ago about using a 1970s gadget to cut my own hair, gets views every single day. Today, a post called My Hungover Weekend showed up on the list. “Huh,” I thought, “I wonder what that’s about.” So I read it.

Do you read your own posts? I do frequently. While each one is about a specific topic, all of them include some random autobiographical information about things on my mind at that specific point in time. Reading a post I don’t remember writing is often like a journey into my past. It takes me back to a place, a mindset that maybe isn’t memorable, but interesting—at least to me. My Hungover Weekend is about the day, in July 2019, I gave up for good the long-standing narcotic sleep aid I used to combat mid-night obsessive thoughts. This story included the following paragraph:

“I’d lie awake in bed worrying about things: things I didn’t do at work, or I’d worry about money, or my retirement, or my relationships, or whether I’m parenting correctly, or my house, or my car, or my health, or any one of a million things that for some reason popped into my head sometime after I went to bed. My most common worry was how my family would survive when the pandemic hit. Seriously.”

I ran a query on my blog. I’ve written thirty-four posts referencing the pandemic, three of those were before 2020, before anyone but health professionals even knew what a coronavirus was. And then six more in 2020 but before March 11, which is when the World Health Organization declared Covid 19 a pandemic.

I’d say I’m fairly obsessed with this thing. Can you think of a person more destined to catch Covid 19 than me?

Last Sunday, Susan, Eli and I took a hike. I wanted to show them a remote series of trails and grassy forest roads I ran the week before. This route, switching back and forth between gentle slopes and aggressive climbs wound its way to the top of a mountain. We all found it beautiful, and knowing that the nearest person was miles away made it even better. I packed the water. Not a warm morning, I carried just two twenty-four-ounce bottles for us to share. At each break, we passed around a water bottle, taking large swigs. Two hours after we finished the hike, Eli was sick.

His sore throat and cough exactly matched the symptoms you might expect from a teenager with Covid 19, and by Tuesday, I began feeling the same symptoms as well. Interestingly, Susan, who also shared the water bottles, but whose work with the homeless got her the vaccine in early March didn’t get sick at all. And on Wednesday, Eli learned from Instagram that the student who sits next to him in German class tested positive last week.

Do you call it quarantine or isolation when you’re sick and awaiting test results? I can’t keep that straight. Tuesday was my last day at work. On Wednesday night, Eli and I went to Rite Aid for a test, and we’ve sat home growing more and more bored and restless by the day. In just about every country but the United States, national lockdowns have meant LOCK DOWN, but here in the states it’s always just been a suggestion. There are so many open spaces to escape to—like last weekend’s hike—that I’ve never felt cooped up, until now.

When I started writing this afternoon, I expected the results of our tests at any minute. The employee said we would hear from them in two to seven days. So far, it’s only been forty-eight hours since the test, but for some reason I expected to already know.

Since things are still up in the air, I thought I’d write two endings to this story.

Negative: As we drove home from the test, Eli and I made a bet; he said negative, I said positive. The winner gets to choose the ice cream shop we visit to settle our bet. Eli loves Rita’s, I love Dairy Queen. In truth, I think both of us are happy no matter where we go, And since we go out for ice cream pretty much every week, no one is really losing out anyway. I’m eligible for the vaccine starting in mid-April, so the chances of me developing Covid are getting pretty slim. Eli needs to wait longer; he’s only fifteen. But as the school year winds down, I think his chance of exposure to the virus drops off dramatically too.

Positive: Well of course. How could I not test positive? I’ve been jinxing myself for fourteen months by writing gloom and doom posts week after week. Fortunately, today I started feeling better. My congestion and coughing cleared up completely over a two-hour period this morning, so barring some sort of unfortunate relapse, I seem to be out of the woods. And our natural antibodies will act like a vaccine for Eli and me until we’re eligible.

Conclusion: Some people might tell me not to think about it, the decision is already made. There’s already a plan in place, and my job is to wait and see what happens. The next person might say that by petitioning God, I can help keep Eli and me safe from catching or succumbing to Covid 19. Of course I believe that my chance of getting or avoiding the disease is just as random as the virus jumping to humans in the first place. My best bet is to keep physically distant, wear my mask and stay away from work until I know I’m healthy.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

18 thoughts on “Destiny, + or –

  1. I’m eligible now. California opened to the 50+ crowd April 1st, then on tax day, everyone 16+. Just for fun I looked to see if there were any appointments… nope.
    I would be mad if I caught the dang Kootie now that we’re starting to get a handle on it.

    I think everyone who had ever read The Stand has been waiting for Captain Trips to happen 😂

    I hope you get a negative result so you can get your ice cream sooner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, Eli and I are negative. Pennsylvania is opening things up soon. Yes, it would be nice to get through this without catching it. I don’t remember if the Stand was first, but since around the time it came out (right when I graduated college) I’ve read dozens of books with the same plot. I wonder if they’ll still have the same appeal now that we’ve lived through it. A whole genre may now be obsolete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your beliefs and how they are shaped in no small part by The Terminator. Love your layers of inconsistency. Love how you can’t remember what you wrote and when you go back it’s like a walk down memory lane. That’s what scrolling through my old Amazon orders is like for me. As in, oh that was back when I was into sinus rinses or oh, why was I so obsessed with those furry hats? What’s the secret to writing killer meta tags? I’m not in on that secret at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I didn’t know you could review old amazon purchases. I think I’d be depressed by how many things we buy and then return. In truth the terminator didn’t shape my beliefs but certainly prompted me to think about what I believe.

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  3. Wow, it’s so easy to catch, just like that. I am glad that you tested negative, however the ups and downs seem a little suspicious. I do hope you’re right as rain soon. And yes sometimes I also go back through posts, it’s the same I can never remember what I’ve written.

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    • I’m guessing me reading my blog is going to be a thing much longer than writing my blog. I’m well enough for some yard work so that makes me happy. We just got a chain saw so I’m going to go chop things up.

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  4. I’m glad the two of you tested negative, and that you will be soon getting the vaccine.

    I am sure you are not alone in your obsession with the pandemic, it has been in the news constantly and has affected all our lives in one or another.

    And I would hope we are not predestined for what life may bring us, that doesn’t sound like much fun…

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  5. Jeff, you know my set of beliefs (most of them) but I think you have a much better chance of protecting yourself from Covid with a mask and social distancing than petitioning God. My belief is that God is outside of time. We are IN time, so we can only see things from our perspective. Kind of like the theory of relativity. A train traveling at 60 mph looks different when viewed from a stationary platform than from another train going the same speed in the same direction.

    Anyway…I am glad you both tested negative. I got my first shot last Saturday. I’m not 65 yet, but I deliver for Meals on Wheels, so I was eligible. Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad we both tested negative too. Now I just need to shake this cold. Which is starting to look like the type that lingers far too long. Glad you’re on the road to immunity.

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  6. I was watching the news one day and heard a doctor say that you either get the vaccine or you get the virus. For a while, I thought if the virus got me, then good for it because we have been following every rule. Now that the kids are back in school and playing sports (even with masks) I am feeling there is a greater chance of infection before I will be eligible for the shot. I am glad you guys are in the clear – hope you are feeling better soon though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with that. I think this will settle into being an ongoing threat that will affect those of us who are vaccinated like a bad cold, and those who don’t get vaccinated as a potentially fatal disease. I think there will be some sort of change on how we handle kids too young to be vaccinated. Game changer. In the meantime, I still feel pretty crappy. I did some yard work yesterday and it kicked my butt.

      Liked by 1 person

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