This time of year in Japan, the sugi (Japanese cedar) spew yellow pollen all over the balcony doors of our house.
All over the car and windows. All over any clothing hanging out to dry.
For some reason, my allergies stubbornly resisted this season. Until this past week. Then I enjoyed the new spring temperatures with two days of non-stop sneezing fits, followed by a day of throaty, mucusy coughs and stuffy nose honks.
Not ideal during a Coronavirus pandemic that has everyone in the world terrified of anybody within earshot. Even I, myself, couldn’t help a momentary feeling of panic. What if…I…??
But it’s just hay fever. Nothing more. But of course I can’t get a test. Not in Japan, where five-sixths of the test kits available simply aren’t used (for fear of driving up the number of the infected, thus dampening Tokyo Olympic chances and damaging the poor PM’s ego).
Should I self-isolate? What if I (and my wife, and kids, and all our friends, neighbors, and colleagues) already were infected and didn’t even know it? (Many people show mild or no symptoms, especially if they’ve been inoculated against seasonal flu already.)
What if it’s too late, we’ve already recovered, and the whole thing is just an overblown cold virus?
Or what if it’s just starting and the worst is yet to come?
With so many unknowns, it’s hard not to feel a real sense of fear, and dread. The world turned upside-down, our “leaders” selling us out while they run off to safe houses as the system they undermined collapses under its own weight.
Maybe it’s the beginning of a new Gilded Age. A new Roaring Twenties of wealth, prosperity, and debauchery.
Only we know what followed that.
It’s been three weeks since two doctors cut open my left shoulder and removed a 2cm-square benign tumor that looked like a tiny blancmonge. The same day my elementary-age daughters had to stay home because their school year abruptly came to an end, with little advance warning thanks to terrified, clueless politicians.
Were they all needless deaths after all?
In only three weeks, it has all been changed. From now and in times to be, wherever a mask is worn.
Changed, changed utterly.
A terrible beauty may have been born…