The Endless Cough
I made a trip to visit Sofie in February 2020 and stayed until my scheduled flight back on March 8, 2020. Of course, that specific return date is now seared into memory because of what would take place in the days, weeks and months that followed. We all have our stories about where we were when we realized nothing would be the same after that week. For me, it started with a sequence of leaving the house in Utrecht and saying goodbye to Sofie as I boarded the bus that took me to the train station.
Somewhere along the line from the bus ride, to the train station, to the train to the airport, to Schipol Airport, to the plane itself, to JFK, to my cab ride from JFK to my house in Brooklyn, I picked up the virus. I arrived in Brooklyn in the evening, went into Manhattan via subway both ways for a few hours the next day (when things were still normal-ish) and, by the following morning, I started coughing and not feeling well. I had planned to go back into the city for a dentist appointment the following day and I remember so clearly being on the phone with the physician's assistant who told me in no uncertain terms to stay home, stay in my room and limit my contact with others. A virtual session with my GP a week later gave him enough information to diagnose me with the virus - at that time, testing was not nearly as accessible as it is today and I dreaded the idea of going out and spending all that time trying to get a testing appointment. My doctor told me as long as I wasn't having difficulty breathing, that I'd be better off self-quarantining and limiting contact with others. So, that's exactly what I did.
I'd scheduled my return ticket back from Europe for that particular week because I had been booked for four performances of my solo show that should have started at the end of that week. There was a lot of discussion and confusion as we tried to figure out if I needed to fly down to Florida and then, it all became clear as the schools shut down and all activities came to a screeching halt. The momentum that had been building only a month earlier as we documented my performances in San Antonio and Austin was lost ... or at least indefinitely postponed. I sincerely hope that, in light of the vaccine progress, we will be able to regain that momentum and re-schedule those shows for the coming Fall / Winter season.
I often wonder what we would have done had my return flight been scheduled for a week or two later. Would I have been part of the masses of people rushing to the airports to try and book a return trip to the U.S. in the midst of a pandemic? I'm so so grateful that I was able to avoid that circumstance.
Being away from Sofie for the following four months would prove to be very difficult ... especially because we didn't have clarity as to when I might be able to get back to Europe until one day, we did. That's another story for another time. For now, I'm only left with a lingering cough that mostly comes out in the evening and some occasional chest tightness and pain in the area that hurt the most when I had the virus. I'm hopeful that these symptoms will dissipate with time and very grateful that I was able to recuperate in the comfort of my home in Brooklyn.