Leaving my Sactown quarantine home

I leave Sacramento on Thursday, nearly three months after my original departure date. My COVID-19 quarantine is coming to an end.

COVID-19 is not coming to an end, it is actually worsening, especially here in Sacramento, all over California, and all over this country. I fear that, given the many who are taking NO precautions, it will get far, far worse. I actually hope to escape the country altogether, and go somewhere safer.

But then again, I ALWAYS feel that way. It just feels a bit more urgent right now.

But that is an interesting shift in perceptions, eh? Who’d have thought that the U.S. would be so poorly-led that it would succumb to a pandemic like a Third World country? But that’s what’s happening, and as a traveler, I want to be able to continue to move around the globe. Having “just came from the worst COVID outbreak on earth” on my passport doesn’t work.

My housemates and I have relaxed our restrictions some – we are venturing out, and having more people in our big warehouse home, and I am no longer spending all my time in my attic, or on the bike trail – but we are still keeping social distance, wearing masks, meeting a limited number of people – always outside – and avoiding enclosed spaces – and strangers.

“Avoiding strangers” is not my preferred mode, and I would have thought that having had so long without much social interaction beyond a small group would have bothered me more than it did. But I, like a lot of people, am finding that things that we once thought crucial – social and cultural events, lots of social interaction – are not quite as important as I once thought.

However, one thing I can’t tolerate for too long is staying in one place. It’s not the life I built, and it’s not the life I want. I miss my loved ones in New York, in Europe, in Japan. I miss my real life. COVID-19 is going to be around for a long, long time. This really is the New Normal, and so I want to figure out what the new normal of my life is going to be. I have no “home” to retreat to.

So I leave in a few days to return to my accustomed ways; modified, of course, but still peripatetic. The idea of heading out, packing up and chasing the horizon, is already energizing me. First, I will visit my family outside of Portland, drop my car and other stuff, strip down to a backpack, and then return to the city I love: New York. How long I’ll be there, I’m not sure. I still have a LOT of work to do, so this isn’t about fun and games. This is about finding my next home, or my version of it.

Five years ago I moved out of my New York apartment on E. 12th Street, and began roaming. It’s a lifestyle that doesn’t fit naturally with the hunker down imperatives of the COVID-19 era, but I need to figure out a way to make that work.

This March, as the pandemic approached, I found my accustomed home unavailable, but quickly ended up in a situation that was far better, better than I could have imagined. I’m so grateful to my friends Josh and Olin for providing me shelter during this unprecedented storm. Their place hasn’t been just a home; it has been a world of inspiration, of positivity, not to mention of companionship, during this insane time.

I have gotten a huge amount of work done; this has been the most productive period of my life. I feel cleansed and emboldened, accomplished and much clearer about my direction. I also have a better idea of who my friends are. Interesting who you choose (and who chooses you) when push comes to shove, eh? (That’s a whole other blog post.)

Now I will load up my little 1999 Jetta – who turned 21 in captivity – and head north to the family seat. Soon after that, my travels will begin again. Where I go is always determined by love, but this time, it will be determined by practicality as well…love draws me to Japan, but the Japanese government looks at my passport and says…not yet.

So we shall see. In any case, I will soon be more alone, so I’ll probably blog more. And I will be back to living the life I so long imagined, and have lived for the last five years. It’s always a bit precarious, but I kinda like that. And underneath that precarious, external circumstance, things inside me feel much more solid and grounded.

I will share some of that, too. Onward.

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Thank you for checking out my blog - it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I am working on projects regarding music history, Japanese culture and my songwriting.

- A week-by-week music history website, music1967.com
- An upcoming book on Japanese culture, Japan from Anime to Zen
- A YouTube channel, featuring random songs and thoughts for the pandemic
- Original music on Spotify, with links to Patreon and Amazon 

David Watts Barton

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