Wednesday I went to Tijuana and then across into San Diego. I didn’t exactly know it at the time, but it turns out that was the last time I’ll be making the crossing for at least a month. The border will be closed to ‘non-essential’ travel by midnight Friday- today.
It seemed like there were too many people outside even though it was pishing doon off and on all day. And, oh, there is supposed to be this highly contagious, potentially deadly virus going around. It was like folks were furiously trying to pretend nothing different is happening in their little end of the world.
The rain has been abundant recently, so at one point the car had to turn around and get on the toll road because of flooding.
The border crossing took about 40 minutes. Not a long time, but not that quick either.
The wet US roadways buzzed and hissed with drivers also desperately pretending nothing is changed; the pretending was so hardcore that there was a two car smash up on the freeway and reports of other accidents on the radio.
I was more than eager to get out and stretch my legs (my back!) after all the delays.
The homeless milled about as usual asking for change. Their habits didn’t seem much altered, as far as I could tell. The food joints all looked half open, uninviting. I ate my vegan burger in the car. It was, hands down, the tastiest pesto and fake mozzarella apocalypse burger I’ve had yet!
The most surreal moment at the Trader Joe’s. Everyone had to wait their turn to be let inside. People seemed mutely stunned at the changes as we stood amid blooming plants for sale. A tent was set up so you wouldn’t get rained on.
An outgoing patron wrangler explained the new rules of shopping at the store. No limit on fish and produce, everything else limited to two of the same item. He enthusiastically reassured us that they had tons of food. When enough people exited, a worker pushed open the not so automatic sliding doors and a few of us filed in to get out hands spritzed with some cleaner.
The shelves were full enough. I guess they were withholding stock in the back room. The freezer usually full with ice creams, sorbets and such was noticeably not restocked.
I don’t know that I had never seen really San Diegans on their best behavior until now. Efficient, helpful, and polite- for real than more not, no artificial smiles and forced pleasantries. The casual small talk at the register came out a little more awkward as even the cashier was in mild shock and didn’t know exactly how to be cheery.
When heading out, a sweet faced worker handed me a single flower. Long stemmed white roses were being distributed to all the shoppers. What is this flower for? For boosting morale in this weird moment? For being inconvenienced by all the new store rules? For potentially risking my life to shop at their store? Why does this make me think of the Joe of Trader Joe’s who died recently? Do they hope to nerf the scythe by handing out roses? What ever the exact intention was –
I got a plague rose.
We all were going home with groceries and white roses. That was perhaps the most curious moment of the whole day. It was so heavy with inexplicable significance. Spooky even. And I am not used to spooky happening in San Diego.
And then Thursday freak tornados appeared off the coast of Tijuana.
And then Friday the border closed.
I am taking this all of in stride. I am mentally prepared for distressing situations. Not that I have the healthiest coping mechanisms in place, but, let’s say, I’m used to the shite of life. It’s been interesting watching the rest of first world humanity figure out what it is like to feel… vulnerable.
This is 2020. I hold to my New Year’s wish that you all find clairvoyance (clear sight- 20/20 vision- remember that?) in these surreal times.
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