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Covid Is Still Wrecking Our Trips

A year ago, no one in my family would dream of getting on a plane, because, hello! Global pandemic.

Starting this summer, once we were fully vaccinated, we started venturing onto flights again. In fact, we were going to fly to Oregon this weekend to tour Oregon State University, visit “Leverage” sights in Portland, and meet up with friends.


This time, not because of Covid in general.

Because of Covid in my body.

I scheduled Covid tests for my daughters and I a few days before our planned flight. As a routine precaution. I didn’t even know for sure if we’d get the results back in time, but I felt confident they’d be negative, so I wasn’t worried about it.

I mean, why would they be positive? My kids’ high school has reported two Covid cases. For the entire school year. Neither of those cases were in my kids’ classes. Because of the Delta surge, we have returned to avoiding other people whenever we can. We’re not eating in restaurants. We scratched plans to attend a couple theater productions, one indoor, one outdoor. After one lousy haircut in June, I quit getting personal services again.

And I work from home!

All this to say, I was so confident in getting a negative Covid test that I opened the email with one hand while straightening up my kitchen with the other hand. I was getting ready to make dinner. I planned to pack my bag that evening. It was almost time to check in for our flight.

When I saw the word “abnormal” in red letters, highlighted in yellow, I was like, “whaa?”

Abnormal, I thought. Huh. Maybe that means they couldn’t get a usable sample? Unfortunately, the words after that set me straight: “Your COVID-19 test is positive. This means the virus was detected and you have COVID19 infection.”

I must confess that at that moment, when I was the only one who knew, the thought crossed my mind to close my email, put down my phone, act like I hadn’t seen the message, and board the flight as planned. I mean, how could it be correct, anyway? There must be some mistake.

I’m not saying I would actually do that. I’m just saying, the thought happened.

Instead, I glanced at my son, sitting at his computer across the room, playing video games with headphones on. I walked to the laundry room to get a KN95 mask, and put it on. I gathered up my laptop bag and phone, and a few food items from the kitchen, and opened the door to our guest suite, a self-contained area of the house with a separate entrance and bathroom, and a mini kitchen. My husband had been using the space as a home office, since his workplace is still remote.

Did I mention we work from home?

Hey! This pull-out couch is just as comfortable as the Internet said it would be. Our guests are so lucky.

From the top of the stairs, I interrupted his online meeting to share my status with him, and instructed him to gather his stuff and leave through the other door. He did. I sat down on the guest suite couch, texted my daughters the bad news, and proceeded to cancel our flight and hotel.

The girls took it well, considering it’s the 10 millionth fun thing Covid has taken off their schedules in the past two years. They were both more concerned with isolating themselves until they received test results, and warning friends they’d been around. Fortunately, both girls have since received negative tests, and will be retesting five days after our last contact. In fact, everyone in my household except me has tested negative this week.

Now, instead of accompanying my high school senior on a lab tour she was invited to by a professor who said she was SO EXCITED to meet her, I am two days into living in what amounts to a tiny home. Lucky for me, it’s a lovely tiny home, and if I can’t interact with my family, at least I can hear them talking to one another upstairs.

This is a journey, too, this 10-day quarantine. Not a journey I planned to take, but here I am. I feel fine, no symptoms. I’m incredibly grateful to have such a nice space to isolate in. There are French doors to let in lots of light and a view of our messy backyard. I’ve been able to verify what guests have told us: Our pull-out couch is truly incredibly comfortable.

Best of all, I have my dog with me. Because dogs can apparently carry the virus, he’s not allowed to mix with our other dog or the family. Which is really what I’ve wanted all along, to keep my favorite dog to myself. And the county health department confirmed that I am allowed to take him out for walks! Which of course has become the highlight of every day.

There’s even more to be grateful for: I am able to continue earning income during quarantine, since I work remotely. My kids are old enough to hold their own while my husband works upstairs. And did I mention I’m not suffering and, thanks to the medical miracle of vaccination, not in danger? Looking at all this, it’s annoying that my mind keeps sulking over the trip I just canceled. What can I say, I’m a spoiled brat. And I love trips.

On the downside, I can’t sit down with my family at the end of the day to eat dinner, or cuddle in front of a movie with my kids. I’ve been mothering them as best I can by ordering groceries for them — I’m about to order the Friday night takeout — and by arranging their followup Covid tests and letting their schools know about the situation.

And of course, I’m sitting here in quarantine planning future trips. Since we had to cancel Oregon, but my daughter is very interested in Oregon State, I am about to book Southwest tickets to visit a different weekend. Frustratingly, we won’t be able to see the campus on a school day, or tour that lab, since today was the only non-holiday Friday the girls had off for the rest of 2021. But we’ll take what we can get.

Do you take a Covid test before you travel? Have you given much thought about how a positive result would affect your plans? Or are you like I was, figuring that was never gonna happen?

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