I’ve been a little short with the blog. I’ve been a little short with Dar. Well, he is a little short, although the “cute” years are going away very quickly.

Last week we went to Monterey. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the universe seemed to be telling us to leave town. Dar’s home therapist canceled for the week, to be picked up Monday. R’s summer camp was canceled for the week, to begin on Monday. Electricians were replacing all the 80-year-old knob-and-tube wiring in the house, and they work more efficiently if we’re not there. (Supposedly. Actually they’re still working on it as I type this.)

And of course, coronavirus fatigue is real. Managing a severely disabled person 24/7 in your house is real. Dar’s thing for June became touching me all the time, hoping that I would pick him up and throw him on a bed. I think my arm has truly become Troubled. The pain whenever I reach behind me has been going on for more than a month. It’s getting harder to sleep. Most injuries get better after a couple of weeks, this hasn’t, I need to see someone, ugh. But my larger point is Dar has been driving me slightly nuts.

We made a last-minute decision last Monday and were surprised at hotel and Airbnb availability. That made us think: uh, are we crazy? Then we found some full hotels and Airbnbs and felt better. We asked the Monterey Tides Hotel: when’s the last time anyone was in the room you’re about to rent to us? They said: three days. We took it.

We almost went to Pismo Beach or the Sea Ranch. They each have appeal. But Monterey wins for closeness, in that we could drive back in two hours if one of became sick or if there was some other emergency. Beach-adjacent property was a sine qua non. If we’re going, if we’re paying, if we’re Covid-risking, we need to see Dar jumping into the waves for hours. It’s hard for me to get to my happy place if he’s not in his happy place.

I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t the beaches closed? Well, yes and no. Some were, some weren’t. On July 3, our last day, the city of Monterey’s beaches were absolutely closed. That was a sad sight. But the wide expanse of oceanfront outside our hotel never closed. I believe that’s part of what Monterey Tides Hotel means when they say they have their own beach. You can google the place; it’s just north of Monterey, technically in a city called Seaside, a city that may not have adhered to the restrictions? (Not sure about that because the official Seaside State Beach parking lot, next to our hotel, WAS closed off for the four days we were there.)

I wore a mask every minute I was on the beach, and basically every minute I was outside our hotel room. What about everyone else? Ehhhhhhh not great. In fact I’d say 90% of the people hanging on the beach next to our hotel were maskless. I wanted to say something, but Dar won’t wear a mask, and so…yeah. Granted, it wasn’t crowded at all. Probably because most people there were paying hotel prices to be there.

At first, Dar loved it. His brother mostly hated it, balling up into a fetal position and waiting for us to leave. So wifey would take R back to the hotel room (and video games) while I sat there with Dar. Dar chases the waves in a nice way, rarely getting more than knee-deep. This was new: Dar would come up to me and do this very autistic move where he would lie down on the towel next to me, stretch out, then stand up again and go to the tides. Odd.

But then a funny thing happened. Dar got bored of chasing the Tides. He started doing other things at the seashore. I wish I could say that he made castles or dug trenches or played with a ball or something that other kids do. Uh, no. Instead he approached people. I had to keep waving him off.

Dar became very interested in the hotel’s sea wall. If you know where you park next to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, you know what the sea wall is: a maybe-15-foot-high concrete barrier that keeps out the ocean at high tide. Well, Dar seemed to think he could climb it. Moreover, he seemed to think I could help him climb it. He took my hand, brought me to the wall, put my hand on his stomach and said “uh-puh.” That’s his way of asking to be picked up. I did it, despite my sore arm, mostly to show him that what he wanted was impossible. Not sure he really took that lesson. Once elevated, he tried to walk his dangling feet up the wall. I’m like, Dar, you’re not Spider-Man, you can’t walk up a wall. Kids today! Can’t believe everything in a video game, you know.

So we got our break, sort of. But you know there’s no real break from coronavirus. I realize that wifey and I are a lot luckier than many. I also realize it’s not fun to be the one responsible for monitoring and educating my kids 24/7, and that there’s the guilt associated with the fact that I have to focus on Dar more than R.

If coronavirus hadn’t happened, I would be scuba-diving in Thailand right now. Instead of gloriously warm water I’ve got a metaphoric splash of cold water. Under this President, we’ve turned American exceptionalism upside-down. We’re no longer welcome (almost) anywhere because our carrier rate and death rate are ridiculous. And it’s not just Trump; it’s also the rest of us. All we had to do was listen to epidemiologists. And yet we refused to wear masks for three months, so now we’ll have to wear them for three years. Even my usual “oh this happens all the time” crowd that was so chirpy in December 2016 has been real quiet, maybe because they somehow forgot to tell us in January that 150,000 Americans would be dead of a new virus by August.

“On that day, Alfred, you can enjoy saying I told you so.”

“On that day, Master Wayne, I won’t want to.”