Coastal Commuter

Managing the weight and wait of staycation

California Golden Poppies provide hope of continuity amid the pandemic.

It’s hard to reconcile the title of this column — “The Coastal Commuter” — with my current state of affairs. My car is tuned up and ready, the spirit is willing, the need to be on the move is profound, but the farthest I’m supposed to go is to the grocery store or pharmacy. So this one-man maven of mobility continues to be a model citizen — one reduced to hanging around the domicile.

The charm of being a homebody for an extended staycation is starting to wear thin, especially since I’ve been doing a solo act since the quarantine began. The most unsettling part of our shared but separately sequestered situation is now the question of how long this might go on. I generally try to live day-to-day, but every one of those days is precious, and I feel like I’m not able to do as much in the time allotted as I would under normal circumstances. Yes, it could be worse. I’m thankful that I’m not illin’ at the moment. So onward we go — just not far.

Although I’d love to get behind the wheel, hit the highway, and do some serious commuting up and down the 101, the 5 (or any other available route), it isn’t in the cards as yet. And the days are blurring together. It’s so bad that I’ve taken to telling time by the length of my fingernails. From what I can tell, it’s always half-past Howard Hughes.


Believe me when I say I’m trying to look on the bright side of things. If this epidemic fracture in society keeps up, one upside is that it will be so much easier — and seem less rude — to avoid people in your life that you don’t like. I realize that I just gave an out to those acquaintances who might not want to know or tolerate me. That’s okay. It works both ways.

One day, this will be over. By that time, I fear there will be ritualistic sacrifices of bats across the globe, due to the winged rodents being tabbed as the source of the virus. Bat-phobia will get so bad that DC Comics will cancel all of their Batman books and movies. And Major League Baseball’s commissioner will send down a directive that players will no longer be allowed to use bats, and instead will have to swat at pitches with lacrosse sticks. I’m just speculating here, so please don’t go batty over it.


When the all-clear is finally issued, I’ll still make sure anyone within six feet of me is wearing their official government-issued “I’m Virus-Free” name tag before I even bump fists. On the other hand, if the chance for some consensual intimacy comes up, I expect entwined bodies will supersede antibodies in importance. Affection over infection!

In the meantime, I search for positive signs. It’s hard to be too pessimistic when spring is dappling the earth with splashes of color and filling the air with floral fragrance. A recent sojourn out of solitary found me, mask fastened in place, walking up a block that was unnaturally quiet in the middle of a weekday afternoon, as is the case of late. Due to the mask, my glasses were fogged with each breath I exhaled. Still, through the haze, I spotted a bunch of California Golden Poppies — our state flower — in bloom at the base of a half-opened mailbox. I sensed the nurturing power of nature surge through my being, smiled, and continued on my way with a bounce to my step.

If that bright and unexpected spray of flowers wasn’t a glimpse of hope, a portent of renewal and better times to come, I’m happy to let someone find me something better — and make it as soon as possible.

Michael Snyder is a print and broadcast journalist who covers pop culture on “Michael Snyder’s Culture Blast,” via, Roku, Spotify, and YouTube, and “The Mark Thompson Show” on KGO radio. You can follow Michael on Twitter: @cultureblaster

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