On Never Walking Alone

Just over two months ago, a few days before I moved to Ireland, I was sitting in the living room of my parents’ home watching Manchester City play Chelsea. There were no fans in the stadium, hadn’t been since the Premier League had restarted after a long, coronavirus-induced break. Stakes were fairly high for each team. A win for Chelsea would boost their Champions League qualification hopes, while a win for City would keep them in the title race for one more week. Chelsea’s young American Christian Pulisic opened the scoring, then City’s Kevin De Bruyne equalised. In the second half, a handball saw Fernandinho sent off and Willian step up to the penalty spot to bury a second goal for Chelsea. Twenty minutes later, the game was over… and suddenly Liverpool were champions.

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Where we are now

On March 15 I was in a hotel in Hanoi, full of nervous energy and the fear that a staff member or another guest would exhibit symptoms of Coronavirus and the Vietnamese government would lock down the hotel until they could figure out the scope of the virus there, and Steve and I would miss our urgently-rescheduled flight back to the United States.

Of course, we had been monitoring the situation throughout our travels in Southeast Asia. The first cases of the virus had been reported in China shortly after we arrived in Indonesia, but it seemed unlikely to affect us. Apart from seeing a lot of locals wearing masks in Singapore and Thailand, something which is common practice in Asia anyway after the SARS outbreak, it was business as usual. We even went to a Lunar New Year in Bangkok’s Chinatown, and any fears of the virus were outnumbered by excitement for the holiday from both locals and tourists.

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