I was racing north on Interstate 25 when the real news came through — everything was shutting down.
The night before, I was having a beer at Truth or Consequences Brewing during open-mic night, seated at the bar next to a retired New Yorker half sunk and slurred.
Midway into the featured washboard garage band’s rendition of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” he brought up COVID-19. “Those poor slugs packed like sardines. They’ll start ripping at each other’s livers before the week is out.”
A bit hyperbolic, I thought, but kept it to myself. I decided to bypass my scheduled stop in Gallup and head straight home to Santa Fe. Nothing but doom on the radio.
It was Friday the 13th — March 2020 — and it was the last time I would be outside of Santa Fe for work. Apart from a trip up to Abiquiú over the summer, it was the last time I was outside of Santa Fe period.
It seems almost unreal to think a year has gone by since the pandemic came in hot and everything shut down.
The way I measure time is different. Days drift lazily into one another, punctuated by some life-altering personal event or national disaster.
I have been lucky that my business, a consulting firm that works in economic development, was essentially virtual prior to the pandemic. I was able to keep things moving in fairly the same way as before, though the business development pipeline is starting to show signs of neglect.
Businesses of this sort are so often an in-person affair. Work comes recommended by a friend or over handshakes at conferences.
On the flip side, what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman observed at the onset of this century has now reached its zenith. Everything is virtual, and remote competition is free to roam into every little space once protected by distance or the burdens of production.
I once had to wake up at 5 a.m. to drive a box with five binders containing five copies of the same proposal to the administrative office in Torrance County to make sure it was received and checked in on time. The most recent proposal I submitted was just emailed.
While the convenience of that is obvious and there’s no love lost between me and that blasted three-hole punch, the amount of competition it engenders can cause a bit of heartburn. Which, in these times, sends one frantically Googling COVID-19 symptoms — chugging bubbly water and cracking smelling salts just to be sure.
On the personal front, things have been busy. Having just been married in October 2019, my wife and I have managed to pack in the purchase of a house and the birth of our son into the pandemic mix.
Maybe we thought things weren’t quite hectic enough. Or, as is most often the case, things just happen and we do our best to manage. Like Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park: “Life finds a way.”