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The final lap home

The final lap home

Yes, we should be more self-reliant, save more, have deep pantries and buy local, but don’t underestimate the greatness of the economic system we have created in this country.
Photo courtesy of Kellee Mayfield.
I’m writing this from my own home. That’s a wonderful statement, but there’s also a certain irony in admitting that I’m still confined to a bedroom. We had the downstairs floors refinished while we were gone. They’re not yet ready to accept furniture. All our necessities are crammed into one room, much as they’ve been for the past three weeks.
Paying Charles for the floors brought home some of the difficulties in maintaining proper quarantine. This being Maine, I can’t just wire him the money. I scrubbed down and wrote a check, and then asked my husband to scrub down and put it outside. He automatically picked up the check with his unwashed hands. We wiped the check with sanitizer and started again.
They checked us in with laptops and cellphones, not on the airport’s own terminals.
On Friday, we’d waited for five hours to board while Argentina and Eastern Airlines LLC engaged in a final tussle over our departure. The plane looked spiffy from the terminal, but inside it was an unadulterated antique—a genuine, wide-body Boeing 767 with no updates. The last time Americans flew on a plane like this, real meals were being served from the galley.
This time, passengers were served prepackaged sandwiches, also apparently from the 1980s. I mention this because the cost of this one-way ticket was 1.5 times what it costs to fly round trip from Boston to Australia, and three times the cost of our original return flight. I’m curious how this tiny airline got the relief contracts from the US State Department when so many planes are sitting on the ground worldwide.
I wrote my blog on my phone while we waited. Photo courtesy of Douglas Perot.
The sandwich was of no matter to me. I’d sworn off eating to get to Miami with my clothing intact. It didn’t work. I was in the midst of another wracking bout of dysentery. I realized I was a floating olfactory disaster when I lifted my bags into an overhead bin. The couple seated there began to wave their hands in distress, their eyes watering.
We arrived in Miami at 1 AM. There to meet us was Jane Chapin’s husband, Roger Gatewood. He had rented a ten-passenger van and driven it from Tampa to Miami to collect us. We wandered across the southern half of the state, dropping two of our wanderers in Fort Myers to catch an early flight. Katie Cundiff got curbside service to her home in Bradenton. The rest of us slept at Jane’s house for a few hours before rising to catch our last flights home.
Our jet was the only thing moving from Ministro Pistarini International Airport.

Once we were in the United States, our travel was unremarkable. We tend to take American efficiency for granted, but we really shouldn’t. Yes, we should be more self-reliant; yes, Americans should save more and have deep pantries and buy local. Those are all important lessons from this pandemic, but don’t for a moment underestimate the brilliance and greatness of the economic system we have created in this country.

At last I could press the ‘home’ button on my navigation app and head north. As with so many big concepts, ‘home’ is perhaps best understood through those tiny moments, like the relief I felt as my phone plotted a course.
Now we begin quarantine for the third and last time. We have sufficient supplies (laid in by my goddaughter) and enough work to keep us busy. But I also need a cure for this dysentery. No problem; this is Maine, where things are still local and personal. Our nurse-practitioner will drop off a test kit this morning. Very soon, this nasty bug will be just a memory.

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