At 11.15pm I put on my boots and the coat I wore playing Prospera, brown and voluminous. I needed it tonight. I wanted to mark the night somehow, the oceans getting bigger and New Zealand getting smaller and further away. Our little canoe, all the way out. There was no one around. The neighbour's light was on though, and a sprinkler I think. She is a keen gardener and our taste in old frocks cross over, love of a very particular kind of geometry and colour. She bought us baking when we moved here, she has bushes on her verge that spell out kia ora. Two cats were out. Sleek, low, dark things that ran from corners and crossed my path. I headed for the beach, which is what you do here. I walked up the rise by the school and heard the roaring ocean. I took the quiet road between the park and the Memorial Hall, and still, not a single car, just me and the cats and the too bright street lights.
It was very dark which makes you notice everything more. The sea lit up by the lights, so you get those lines of iridescent waves. The blinking red light of the public toilet in the park, the big wooden storm water drains, the park benches and the letter boxes. The Milky Way really looked like a Way tonight, arched over us in a line from our house to the sea.
It feels like a beginning, and we're already remembering it. No-one has died in New Zealand, and no-one I know has died overseas. It's interesting It won't be later, we said, but it's kind of interesting right now. There's a short video of Italian film makers talking to themselves 10 days ago, warning themselves. The virus started in China, and then hit Iran and Europe and America and the whole world, and while numbers in China have gone down now, Italy has no intensive care beds left and people have already died because there were not enough ventilators. Are dying. By yesterday, 2978 people had died in Italy.
From The Guardian 20 March 2020
From RNZ 12.54am 20 March 2020
The first confirmed case of Coronavirus in New Zealand was on Saturday 29th of February. On Wednesday 4th March, there was a second case, 5th March was the third case, 6th of March was the fourth case. 7th March was my father's birthday. Sunday the 8th March was the fifth case. Then the sixth case on Saturday the 14th March. Cases, 7 and 8 on the 15th of March, also a year since a man took a gun and turned on his video streaming app, entered two mosques in Christchurch and calmly opened fire. On 16th of March, my friend's family goes into self-isolation, not because of being immune compromised or exposure or a recent overseas trip, but because it feels like the safest thing to do. Four more cases on the 17th March, one of them in Dunedin. It was Saint Patrick's Day and Dunedin university students ignored all the advice and partied in the streets. So that was twelve cases. The day before yesterday, eight more, yesterday another eight. 28 cases, all people recently overseas.
No-one but New Zealand citizens or residents or their dependents or partners allowed in the country now. I don't think my Dad would have liked it. He was one for community. He thought a lot about countries and how they sat easily or uneasily in this world, with their neighbours, in their oceans. You could watch him think, worry something out, and see the countries move just under his skin like watching cramp climb someone's leg. I walked home up Ocean Road, and saw again how the trees moved in the wind and the strange shadows of grid and leaves, something to do with the manufacture of the light. My coat billowed satisfactorily behind me.
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