Mar. 14—"Why are your dad and Milo in Seattle?" my son Eddie's friend asked exactly a year ago. At that time, the Emerald City was the epicenter of the novel coronavirus.
While visiting a friend, I thought why not write a travel story, "The upside of the pandemic: great deals in Seattle." When I was asked about taking such a risk, I told pals that the Life Care Center in nearby Kirkland that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak was not part of my itinerary.
I was guilty of not taking the coronavirus seriously. I laughed when Milo and I heard Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick" as we entered the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture. While visiting the Nirvana exhibit, we heard the late Kurt Cobain screaming in his urgent but incoherent fashion about being contagious during "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Milo and I were laughing about what we heard while en route to catch The Strokes perform in front of 7,000 unmasked fans who crashed and sweated all over one another on March 9 at the WaMu Theater, the last major concert in Washington.
Shortly thereafter, it became evident that it was no laughing matter as we boarded a boat for a tour of the Puget Sound. Such excursions are typically sold out during weekends. However, it was just Milo and me and a hand sanitizer on our trek.
We reached the top of the Space Needle with about 15 other people peering out at Mount Rainier on this gloriously sunny day. However, the following evening, it became ominous. While hanging out on a pier, we decided to play an NBA video game, but aptly enough it said "out of order." An hour later, the NBA called its season.
It was as if an invisible drape was being pulled around Seattle. We winced as we watched someone drink from a water fountain in South Park. The creepiness was tangible, and it felt like I was in a Harrison Ford movie as we sped toward a desolate airport.
Nothing happened to Milo. It all worked out, and the air of Spokane smelled fresher and cleaner than ever when we landed. However, I let down my son since I took the coronavirus as seriously as Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert, who made world news for grabbing reporters' tape recorders and microphones just before finding out that he tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-March.
I didn't read as much about the coronavirus as I should have since I was concerned with so much: a new job, family issues, one kid in college with another to follow, and much more, like any other parent.
I assumed the coronavirus was going to be no worse than the SARS outbreak in 2004. Less than 1,000 people died that year due to the virus, and most of the victims were in Asia. I had no idea a pandemic would kill more than 530,000 Americans and 2.6 million people around the world.
Once the severity of COVID-19 hit me, I felt terrible for exposing my son due to my ignorance. Our family has been very fortunate. We have yet to be hit personally by COVID-19 even though none of us has been vaccinated.
I always tell my children that no matter what goes wrong, regardless of what you lose, if you have your health, you have everything. By the time April arrived, Milo, who was 14 then, and I were very wary and compliant.
However, my older son Eddie had just turned 18, and he was a perfect representative of his age group. Eddie's actions reminded me of the Alice Cooper classic "I'm Eighteen."
"Eighteen / I get confused every day / Eighteen / I just don't know what to say / Eighteen / I gotta get away." Even though the pandemic was surging, Eddie did get away with friends. Apparently, many teens, who typically feel invincible, ignored quarantine demands and social distancing.
By July, Eddie metamorphosed and has been very careful since. If I don't pop on my face mask quickly enough, he rants at me like a reformed smoker when someone lights up in their vicinity.
The pandemic continues, and, with all of the variants and unknowns, the future is challenging. We look forward to some sort of normalcy, but we also look back at a lost and most unusual year.
Eddie's high school graduation was a brief blip on the radar. I still remember when he was 4 years old, and I figured out he would be part of the Class of 2020. "How cool is that?" I said to my tow-haired preschooler. Nostradamus, I'm not. Both of my son's baseball seasons were compromised. Tournaments were either canceled or moved to other sites.
Goodbye, Portland, Seattle and games on Gonzaga's pristine baseball field. Hello, Idaho and Montana. However, I give props to the finely run Spokane Expos teams for turning lemons into lemonade, particularly for Milo, who had a great time playing with the 14U and 16U teams.
A year later, it's about making the best of a bad situation, and I think, as a society, we're doing just that. I couldn't write about the silver lining of the coronavirus when it came to a story on deals in Seattle just as the plug was being pulled.
However, there are some upsides to this experience, and I don't mean to disrespect anyone who has lost a loved one or suffered through the agony of COVID-19.
But society has learned that it can accomplish a great deal in a remote manner. Maybe that means there will be less cars on the road, and there won't be so much congestion or pollution. Perhaps companies will rent less office space.
In a nation so divided, we can look at how our frontline workers risked their lives and joined together to save so many. I learned that when a virus is on the horizon that I should read about it and not place my children at risk.
Milo and I look back at the photos from March 2020 of a Seattle that was anything but the vibrant and bustling city we experienced during previous visits.
We lived through that bizarre experience and one year of the pandemic. We look forward to an uncertain future, and, despite a tumultuous period, we remain optimistic and excited about what is in store for us tomorrow.