Yesterday an old friend half way across the world sent me a headline: Woman refused to evacuate without her cat. He asked, “is this you?!”
First of all, I’m not in Wuhan, I don’t need to be evacuated. Second of all, I have two cats. Plural.
My cleaning lady came today, so I again left the apartment to get out of her way. But this Tuesday, things are a little more complicated. More places are shut down in Shanghai right now than ever before. I drove my scooter around the neighborhood, covering more ground this time on two wheels... No luck. Everything was either closed or delivery only. I parked my scooter next to a chain bakery (Bread etc. a bigger chain so I assumed it’d be open but nope) and walked into a mall.
Jing’an Kerry Center has two towers, one of those mixed used behemoths that takes up a whole city block with a metro station, hotel, luxury service apartments, shopping, dining, and office space. Nope. Delivery or take out only. A lot of the luxury retail shops are still open though and my goodness the employees looked ready to set their own hair on fire just for some excitement. There were significantly more employees working in the mall than there were shoppers.
But hey, Shake Shack was open! Once the restaurant staff took my temperature (gun to the wrist this time, not forehead. I think they’ve learned that forehead temperature is unreliable, especially when someone’s just walked in the door from near freezing temps) I was ushered into an empty line to order.
Since it’s take-out only, I went out searching for a place to dine al fresco. The whole city block was pretty empty... Except for security guards. And it was hard to tell if they would shoo me away if I set up a picnic on their pristine block. I feel like one of them might chase me away just for something to do, an honestly I would enjoy that, too. I could use the cardio.
Eventually I found a nice little parklet next to a closed restaurant, and set up shop. Unpack my food. Sanitize my hands. Remember to remove my mask before shoving a straw at it (I failed a few times in about an hour. You do get used to it).
And then cats happened. Yep. I’m not even trying to make these diary entries all about cats. Cats just sort of happen to me, ok?
My Shake Shack picnic was stationed on this lovely stone bench that wrapped around a small, manicured tree. It always makes me a little sad, trees in containment. I feel like they deserve more root space. And close companionship. Oh shit I’m identifying with tree loneliness now? My goodness. What a sap. (Get it? Sap? Cause trees have... Never mind.)
Anyway, back to the cats. The first little bugger, let’s call him Moo cause she’s black and white, can’t be more than 6 months old, smelled my SmokeStack burger and started asking for a bite. She received approximately 5% of the burger patty and rejected the crinkly fries. What a brat.
After the picnic, I relaxed on the stone bench with a copy of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, moving around to stay under the sun. Nothing beats the winter sun. Nothing. Bundled up in coat and scarf, with the front wide open to take in the breeze and the warmth. Toasty yet not sweaty. It was bliss.
And while I was out, apparently my toilet clogged. The cleaning lady called a plumber on my behalf. 10 RMB. That’s 1.43 USD. Sorted. Amazing. Another thing I am grateful for in Shanghai, even when times are weird like now, affordable skilled labor to help the domestically challenged.
My mood today was significantly better, with the sun, some human interaction (but man everyone I greeted just looked so booooooored), and new cat friends. Hadn’t left the apartment for... 4 days before today? Well, 4 more to go.
Never thought I’d say this, but I almost miss the crowds in Shanghai. Almost.