Augusta, Ga., is often described as the happiest place in golf during Masters week, and I should have been there last week covering the tournament. But due to the pandemic, I was holed up in my Connecticut home, self-isolating with my wife and youngest daughter. The togetherness has been good for the most part, and we are grateful for our good health and the ways we are helping each other endure this difficult and disquieting moment (even as the atmosphere does get a little tense at times). But I have been thinking these past days that all things being equal, I would rather be tracking down stories at Augusta National.
I have been dreaming of Butler Cabin. But instead, I have cabin fever.
I struggle at times with the lack of human contact back here and feel anxious about the possibility of catching the virus whenever I make one of those rare trips to the grocery store.
But I also have noticed that not everything wrought by cabin fever is negative. I find myself spending more time on the phone with friends than I have in years, largely because I am unable to see or talk to those with whom I am not isolating. My wife, daughter and I are eating together more often, and cooking those meals with each other, too.
Happily, we also have found plenty to laugh about. The people with whom we have enjoyed a virtual cocktail or two on Zoom seem to be getting shaggier, and increasingly gray. And why wouldn’t they, given that barbershops and salons essentially are shut down? No one appears particularly well-groomed either, and we enjoy making note of that as the booze kicks in. When I check in with a friend who has been home-schooling a pair of “hellion sons,” ages 3 and 5, he says that “the students have been suspended for fighting, and the teacher reprimanded for drinking on the job.” Another pal talks about how he and his wife are now social distancing at home – and how he is looking to buy sandbags on Amazon so he can divide his house into sectors.
I often have sought serenity in the occasional walk around the neighborhood. The fresh air feels good, and the sight of the first flowers of spring is welcoming as well. Even better, though, is the fleeting contact I have with the drivers who pass by in their cars, and those riding bikes or strolling down the other side of the road. Though words are not exchanged, we wave and smile at each other, and that simple interaction lifts my soul.
At times like this, we can all use a little wave and a smile.