Don't Touch Your Face

Social Distancing Is Hard

Our EIC Cathy Matusow's last editor's note.

By Catherine Matusow May 1, 2020 Published in the May 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

I DID IT AUTOMATICALLY, without thought or hesitation. My husband, dogs, and I were walking along the bayou at T.C. Jester Park when I saw a dollar on the ground. “Jeff!” I called, triumphantly, as I bent to pick it up.

Alas, the bill had been ripped in half. I dropped it, then recoiled, rubbing the dirt it left behind between my fingers.

Here we were trying to practice social distancing, furiously washing our hands, and I had touched the one thing every single person passing the same way had probably touched, too. We were far from the car, and we had no hand sanitizer, despite our best efforts to find and purchase some. It was as if my hand was throbbing with germs. Don’t touch your face, I thought to myself. Don’t touch your face.

It was a beautiful spring day outside, a lovely time of year to visit the park. A soft breeze had the brilliant wildflowers lining the bayou’s banks dancing for us. But we were distracted. Jeff inexplicably stopped in the middle of the walk, googling some question about the coronavirus that apparently could not wait. Moments passed before either of us realized one of the dogs was standing in an ant bed. We picked the insects off his paws and kept going.

If the outing wasn’t quite a normal one, well, it came close enough.

Since we’ve retreated indoors, our daily walks—whether at one of Houston’s parks or through our own neighborhood—have been one of the few activities we’ve been able to continue from our pre-pandemic lives. They provide real solace, alongside exercise, fresh air, and glimpses of other people, which of course is why the Houstonia team has decided to feature ideas for getting out of the house and exploring the outdoors as our cover feature this month. I hope it’s useful to our readers.

As I write this note, one person has died from the novel coronavirus in Harris County. The fear is palpable as we brace for more cases. I’m worried about my parents, my friends who are isolating by themselves, the elderly, the food-insecure, the homeless. I’m trying to keep my niece, who lives with us, inside the house; reading the news obsessively, like everyone else; attempting to maintain a daily routine while, yes, fine, having invasive thoughts about toilet paper. What will reality look like when this issue prints? None of us knows.

Adding to my sense of a world turned upside down, this is the last Houstonia issue I’ll be editing—although rest assured, the magazine will be in good hands. It’s been an incredible seven years exploring this wonderful city, my hometown, with you, my fellow Houstonians. I’m going to miss it mightily. See you on the other side, Houston.

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