Published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on March 24th.
Saturday night, March 14, my husband was reading bedtime books to the kids at about 7:45 p.m. He was exhausted from another week of work, ski patrolling at Snowmass Mountain, and was enjoying some quiet snuggle time.
While he was in the middle of “I Want My Hat Back,” his phone, which was on the kitchen counter where I was cleaning up from dinner, received a text. I accidentally snooped on his screen, and discovered from that short message that he no longer had a job the next morning, as Snowmass Mountain was closing immediately due to the governor’s order.
Our carefully planned future suddenly looked impossible. Our world was turned on its head, and I have been riding the waves of frustration, grief, hope and outright panic like so many others over these past two weeks. There is not a lot of margin for error for people living paycheck to paycheck in resort communities, and the gulf that quickly formed between us being “OK” and us being “something else entirely” gets wider every day.
Yet, and it is from behind not a few tears that I say this: I’m glad our state is acting the way it is. Would I prefer that the governor not juxtapose his lost ski vacation with alleged sympathy for those who have completely lost their livelihood? Yes. I don’t think he has any personal understanding of what he has done to us and the thousands of families like us. But that doesn’t make it wrong.
Every day that our community responsibly practices social distancing, and every day we choose to give up the luxury of not caring how our lives impact others, we are buying our hospitals, emergency workers and medical professionals a little more time to be ready to save lives. By delaying the rate of infections, or flattening the curve, as the media prefers to say, our personal sacrifices and uncertainty are giving more high-risk people the chance to get the life-saving interventions they deserve.
My family is choosing to value life over petty political semantics, or selfish ignorance, or even our own economic well-being.
And, to be honest, we are not doing it gracefully.
I have complained, and doubted, and tried to argue my way out of it for days now. I searched hard to find someone to blame, or some new information to at least partially discredit the new reality that the world is facing. But the advice of every expert I read or talked with was the same: It’s time to stay home.
So, to the skeptics, the conspiracy theorists, the few bar owners who are a little short on community responsibility, and all those who do not believe that COVID-19 should affect them personally, I say this: It is time to grow up.
From someone who may not be able to pay their mortgage in May, please stay home.
From someone who is responsible for entertaining/educating three kids younger than 7 for more than 12 hours a day now, please stay home.
From someone who is not in a high-risk population, please stay home.
From someone who is a rank-and-file member of the rugged individualists club that thrives in this state, please think of your neighbors before yourselves and stay home.
It’s not about whether you expect to end up with the disease, or whether you expect you’ll get a mild case. It’s about whether someone you do not even know may end up in the hospital with COVID-19 (or any of another thousand reasons) and not have a ventilator to let them breathe, or even a bed to lie in.
Social distancing is the choice to follow the speed limit of our times. Like a speed limit, it is easy to ignore if no one’s watching, endangering people who you can’t see for the sake of your own selfish whim.
You can choose to visit underground happy hours, or pack spring-break beaches, raking up a cost which will be shouldered by the whole community. Or you can choose to make a choice that protects the lives of others, and promises a shorter end to all this for everyone.
So, it is with gritted, oppositional-defiant teeth that I implore every single responsible adult, as well as everyone who still feels invincible, to do the one right thing we can all do and practice social distancing.
I can’t promise that it will make your life better tomorrow, or even next week, but it will save someone else’s life and allow you to stand proudly in the future as you look back on the choices you made in this global moment.