Pandemic Honeymoon

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Pandemic Honeymoon

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Our wedding was on Leap Day, February 29th, 2020. The honeymoon followed shortly after with still whispers of a pandemic possibly looming. It was the newlywed phase of ignorance, but the pandemic was still viewed as something that wouldn't happen. We first went to Napa Valley without seeing one person wearing a mask in public. Traipsing around vineyards and imbibing on wine also helped stave off reality's harshness. When we arrived in San Francisco for the week, we realized maybe this was bigger than we realized. Walking the busy and heavily inclined streets, you would see about 50% of the people wearing masks and whipping out their hand sanitizer every so often. However, once we started walking through Chinatown, that number nearly doubled.
Still, we somehow were not phased. Why would we be? We were on our honeymoon with an endless supply of matcha ice cream, dim sum, walking, sights to see, and more walking! The city was still bustling and alive; you could barely notice the Grand Princess cruise ship loitering in the bay for days, waiting for permission to dock that never came. The cancellation of a Warriors game? Oh well, our boat to Alcatraz was still ready to set sail! On the last day of our trip, we noticed a couple of restaurants closing early, with one owner asking, "Don't you know what's happening?!" On the last day of our trip, we decided to take the long drive home and go down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. In walking the streets and making our way to Monterey Bay Aquarium, we were shocked by the sight of people in hazmat suits spraying the exterior doors of the building. This image would later replay on the news once we made it home. They implemented strict lockdowns and travel restrictions within the hour of crossing back into Arizona's borders. We were so lucky we made it back home just in time and didn't realize until we made it home just how oblivious and ignorant we were.
Looking back, I cringe at our naivety. Those concerned people wearing masks in Chinatown? Some of them would later become victims of racism due to COVID fearmongering. That ice cream shop we frequented? Vandalized and destroyed. That curious cruise ship at the time claimed seven lives and infected over 100 people. Once we were home safe and realized this pandemic's seriousness, we stayed home. Within a couple of weeks after returning home, we found out we were expecting, bringing even more intensity and fear. The carefree attitude and carelessness, as exhibited on our honeymoon, were now met with complete awareness of the pandemic and the strictest adherence to lockdown guidelines. We didn't travel again until our pandemic baby was two and a half years old—all of the innocence of life before COVID was forever gone.

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This item was submitted on October 14, 2023 by Courtney Birch using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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