It has been more than three months since COVID-19 changed our lives forever. Things that we once took for granted are no longer with us, at least for the near future.
In many ways, I am one of the lucky ones. Though I have not been tested, I remain symptoms free and, I hope, virus free. Being officially “retired” (whatever that means) I have not suffered from the loss of a job like so many others. I live alone, in my Plantation condo, which means I have the whole place to myself.
On the other hand, I am lonely most of the time. I miss the personal contacts and activities that makes my life worth living. I worry that I become what I fear the most: a lonely old man, living the life of a hermit.
Fortunately, I still have an active social life. Unfortunately, I conduct most of it on my computer. Thanks to the wonders of Zoom and other online video conferencing programs, I have attended the Virtual Pride Festival sponsored by local LGBT Pride groups in South Florida.
I also took part in or attended religious services, family reunions, organizational meetings, benefits, lectures, and concerts. I did all this while sitting in front of my computer, without leaving my home. I hope this is not the new normal. I need reasons to get off my duff, put on some clothes, and walk outside.
Highly susceptible to cabin fever, I take advantage of any excuse to go out. Every morning I walk a few miles around the neighborhood and drive around in the afternoon, usually to coincide with Michelangelo Signorile’s program on Sirius XM satellite radio. Once a week I drive east into Wilton Manors, to pick up my weekly copy of SFGN and see how life goes in our LGBT hometown.
I took advantage of a free food giveaway at the local Courtyard Café, not because I needed the food but because I need the human contact that goes along with it. A few weeks later I went to the Alibi for free hot dogs, potato chips and sodas that the Alibi and SFGN generously gave away.
In both cases I got to spend some time with friends and acquaintances, including my pal Julie Carson, Wilton Manors City Commissioner and now a candidate for Mayor. Once a week I break free from my confinement and spend the night with my boyfriend Ron, for a little social nearness.
Like many of you, I try to use my quarantine as a time to improve my mind, and sometimes I succeed. I read books, watch movies, listen to music, and learn about new and exciting artists. (What is a Maluma?) I keep up with the news, but up to a point. I do not need to be bombarded with COVID-19 (mis)information, especially the daily press conferences from You Know Who. Fortunately, things are starting to come back, slowly but surely.
Recently I ate at my favorite breakfast joint, the Original Pancake House in Plantation, and never did pancakes taste so good. So, live your life the best you can, but always watch out for your health, and the health of the ones you love.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.