The Walk

By: Dolores Gomez, Brisbane historian, brischic@sonic.net

Sadie, my rescue dog demands a walk in the morning, running to her collar and leash that hang on the door knob. December is cold, so we both wear warm coats. As we walked around the block, the spicy aroma of carnitas greets us from Melissa’s Mexican Restaurant. Peering through the tall windows, I can see Raphael, the owner, busily serving breakfasts to groups of hungry customers. A huge delivery truck was double parked on the narrow street, to deliver restaurant supplies. Next door at Lucky House I could hear a loud chopping sound, the cook getting vegetables prepared for the day’s delicious Chinese lunches. The sun was out and a slight breeze was changing my hair style, but it felt good.

Sadie stopped to sniff a tree, I impatiently waited. It was time to cross the busy street, but we paused for cars to pass. Customers were streaming into Julie’s Liquor and Delicatessen to grab a cup of coffee before driving to work or a sandwich for their lunch. We got to the park, it was becoming colder, and I headed home. We walked back up to the house where I enjoyed a hot cup of tea and peanut butter on toast.

Suddenly February brought worry and unrest to the world and this town. A virus, supposedly from a bat in China, changed everyone’s life. Will it be for long or just disappear? My family was adamant that I needed to stay in the house and not go grocery shopping. I resented it. Businesses began to close; the number of dead in the world became alarming. We were in deep trouble!

In April, I walked in a totally transformed town. Melissa’s had large signs in their huge windows; “TAKE OUT ONLY” plus a smaller sign cautioning customers that a mask was mandatory and to please practice social distance. Tables were piled so that no one could sit to eat. I didn’t smell the carnitas! No double parked trucks now on Visitacion. Lucky House was quiet and open only for takeout. No moving traffic to wait for made it easy to cross the street at Julie’s Liquor and Delicatessen. Two men wearing masks were in line, waiting outside for their lunch orders. Bag lunches would be brought out to them.

Sadie and I walked alone on the silent street. It felt strange and eerie, a new experience for me. I wanted the sadness to go away. I found comfort at the Brisbane Hardware store. Billy, the friendly owner, wore a mask, embarrassed, I didn’t have my mask! It is so easy to forget when not used to wear on. Mixed messages from the government made me more insecure. Did they begin soon enough to try to control this virus and save lives? I long for our town and world to get back to normal. To wear a mask and gloves to go to the store is not normal.

I miss seeing my family, grandchildren, and great grand children. Thinking of the word “resilient” is how I will deal with this unwelcome visiting virus! Things can always be worse, so I will take Sadie for a walk in the sun so she can sniff, bring the neighbor food, call others to chat, stay in the house, and create projects to keep busy and enjoy the rest of my life.