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Relay: Ready or Not

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 23:33

KEY BISCAYNE, MARCH 27 — So. What to do, how to get home, what to pack, and whether to leave at all?     

It is predicted to hit 90 degrees this weekend in Key Biscayne, Fla., where my husband and I, who are among life’s luckier people — except that we’re old now, and all three of our kids are calling every other hour to make sure we’re still alive — have been estivating since December.     

The news about the city folk emptying the South Fork supermarkets is frightening. The New York Post has covered it with enthusiasm, day after day — what a great stir-up-hate story for a paper that loves Donald Trump! We don’t get The Post here in Florida, but it pops up online with an East Hampton story almost every damn hour, bleating that the hordes are hoarding, the shelves are emptying, there’s no meat or chicken to mix with the noodles — not that there are any noodles left.     

Even if I pack three Winn-Dixie double paper grocery bags full of rice and beans and other useful stuff that we don’t eat and don’t even know how to cook, where will we find chicken and fish and fruit and vegetables when we arrive?

Nevertheless, we are going, we are coming home. It will be 53 years come next week that we’ve been happy in what was once our weekend house in Amagansett, and that, for the last five years, has been our year-round dear home. Now, in the midst of Armageddon, my husband wants to go home, even if the RECenter, which he much needs for swimming and exercise, is closed.     

Eh, well, so is every beach in South Florida. They shut down South Beach and Fort Lauderdale first, the famous spring-vacation strips on Miami Beach and the one to the north where the college kids were ignoring the news and partying and clustering — of course, why should they not, those kids, they’re going to live forever — only then they closed all the rest, and now the kids are gone and there are yellow crime strips crisscrossing the pools and helicopters patrolling the beaches, flying scarily low, while thousands of people stare across at the ocean and wonder what the hell.     

We leave tomorrow. People here on this four-mile-long supposedly safe island — where there’s rumored to be a five-member family holed up somewhere (no one knows where) with COVID-19 (“had it already when they came from Spain, and they never told anyone, would you believe it”) — think we’re deranged, flying into the Jaws of Hell. But if I see one more email from the Key Biscayne Village trustees suggesting that “high-risk individuals over the age of 65” self-quarantine — what, gray hair is contagious? — I shall zip over to Village Hall and breathe upon every one of them.       

We’re flying in at night. The plumber, whose late father-in-law used to answer the phone in broad Bonac, “This is Dick King Plumbing, speak slow,” left a bottle of milk for us in the empty fridge yesterday.

Ready. Or not.

Irene Silverman is The Star’s editor at large.

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