Last Wednesday I drove to O’Hare to pick up Manyu after her six-month stay in Taiwan.  Her flight was on time, and except for some confusion with the Illinois tollroads, the car ride part of her trip went as well as a long drive between La Crosse and Chicago can go. The problem with the tollroads is that the tollbooths no longer accept cash. Without an I-Pass on my car, I was not sure what to do.

Manyu’s and my reunion, due to coronavirus, has been anticlimactic. Because her plane was crowded, Manyu is social distancing until we are sure she hasn’t been infected. I gave her a quick hug at the airport, but other than that initial masked embrace, we haven’t so much as held hands. On the way home, she sat in the backseat. Now that we are home, she has sequestered herself in the master bedroom, and I sleep on the couch. As one friend observed about the sleeping arrangements, “So everything is already back to normal.” I have strung a clear plastic shower curtain in the hallway between her living space and mine. We talk to each other from opposite sides of the curtain; our conversations have all of the romance of a lawyer/client strategy meeting at a high security prison.

The CDC recommends travelers either 1) sequester for ten days or 2) get tested and, if the results are negative, reduce the sequestration to seven days. Manyu wanted to skip the test and just wait the full ten days. I put the kibosh on that suggestion, partly because I want to get rid of the social distancing as soon as possible and partly because I have come to  realize I am at her beck and call until she comes out of quarantine. 

This blog is making it seem I am not excited to have Manyu back. I am excited to have her back – but maybe not as excited as our dog. Thursday morning at 1:30am, I opened the backdoor of our house after the drive from O’Hare. Dependable Jack came from wherever he was sleeping to greet me as I walked in. When he saw it was Manyu who preceded me through the doorway, he went berserk. With his tail wagging frantically, he tore around the room for a full ten seconds, then clamored up her legs begging to be petted. I know it was not Jack’s intention, but the little guy made me look bad. In comparison, my tepid greeting at the airport was pitiful.

Steven Simpson