Plague Diary 6: Social Distance and the Beach


Social distance by truck at Sunset Beach

There is one beach open and it’s Sunset Beach, which is to say the stretch of beach that runs basically between Camp Rilea, which is military and I think you cannot go on their beach, to Gearhart, which is fancy and I hear is closed. I have been spending a lot of time on Sunset Beach, probably four times a week at least, and while it is not my favorite beach, I think I would go insane if I couldn’t get out there. I feel deeply for those who are stuck in cities right now. I miss my friends in Asheville fiercely but living somewhere with room to roam, especially now, is priceless.  I am glad I am here, and here’s an article from the Oregonian that has some reasons why.

I have talked to myself a lot about how the pandemic hasn’t actually altered my life all that much but while, okay, I grant you that it is just vaguely possible that I wasn’t out every damn night slurping down martinis in a humming group of frighteningly cool people, it turns out even cranky old misanthropes like me can miss human interaction. Just 40 days ago, I would have gone into an office and seen my colleagues in real life, not arranged like the Brady Bunch on a zoom screen. I wouldn’t have thought twice about running to the store for paper towels – well, okay, I would have, but that’s because I’m poor, not because I was afraid of catching some deadly disease or getting the stink eye for coughing. I might have met a friend for a drink – after 15 months here, I felt as if I was just starting to make some friends. I probably would have gone to the ArtWalk last week – and so on and so on. My library books would not be stupid overdue. I would have had a dermatologist appointment. Spring allergies would just be annoying, not alarming. We all have a list. And my son would be getting ready to head to his next exotic location resort job, not here making me delicious oil free shrimp and noodle dishes (there are SOME silver linings.)

The last week has been marked by a lot of media attention to some protests by Trumpers demanding that the economy be immediately opened up again so they can get their hair done, or something like that. It turns out that as is the usual way of such things nowadays, all these protests are being organized from one mysteriously central location (Florida, unsurprisingly) and that the crowds demanding an immediate return to preplague times – specifically the preplague times where their underpaid employees were working around the clock making them money and other hapless wage slaves could do their deranged bidding – have actually been small, not huge. Not that anyone will believe this but when you do manage to back off from the overwhelming narrative, it’s kind of heartening. Not, you know, a whole lot of heartening, just a little bit, but we take what we can get these days. I am up to here, as are we all, with the neverending firehose of lies coming from the White House and being amplified by the media. I am also irritated by the giant groups of young people on the beach and the tweeted pictures of Florida beaches and the goddamned moron in charge of Georgia who is endangering my friends by reopening the state.

Meanwhile, here at home and occasionally at the beach, things blur together. Time has20200421_102333 gotten kind of elastic and peculiar; hours take forever but days go by fast and nothing gets done. When I started this post I was highly annoyed by irresponsible people at the beach partying down and also leaving tons of trash behind. They suck, that sucks, but my outrage is no longer fresh. Go figure.

For example, four days have gone by since I started this blog post. Last night, I used up the last of the tube of blue hair dye I had squirreled away and then chopped a couple inches off my hair with kitchen scissors. Miraculously, it looks – okay! Not bad! I’ve had worse haircuts (I’m looking at you, spring 2006.)

I have just signed up online to go buy some artisanal pickles from a local restaurant. I will wear a mask – thank you to my talented friend in Portland who made them and mailed some to me! – and call when I get curbside. I’m glad they’re doing this and yeah, well, more silver linings I guess. I’m not sick. Nobody in my family is sick. I do not think the world is going to return to what it was after this – NOR CAN IT NOR SHOULD IT *- but I also think, one day at a time. Today is okay. It’s all I got, just, today is okay. I hope yours is as well.


  • if you’re only going to read one link or one article today, read this one.


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