I could literally kiss liberty or hug freedom right now.

I’m free. I’m free.

No, I haven’t been in jail or anything like that, but I have a new appreciation for freedom.

For the past two whole weeks, I have been sequestered at home living in the capital of the state of quarantine.

Here’s some free advice. You don’t want to go there.

My parents and I were exposed to the coronavirus about two weeks ago and both Mama and Daddy got sick with the bug. I had been with them for several outings, so I had to quarantine at home on my doctor’s orders. Thankfully, I never had any symptoms and tested negative. I am so sorry my Mama and Daddy had it, though. And, for those two weeks, I’ve had to stay away from them. We also had to postpone our Christmas celebrations.

For the first time in 71 years, there was no Christmas gathering at my Deal homeplace, once my grandparents’ home and now my Daddy and Mama’s house. My grandparents, Daddy, Uncle Vann and a newborn Uncle Mike moved in to the house in December,  1949. Uncle Horace came along a little later. From that time until now, Christmas Eve has always been full of joy and love and laughter in that place. It fell victim to this fiendish Grinch, coronavirus.

I am so ready for the pandemic to be over with. Everything about 2020 has been crazy it seems. I fully expect to find out at any moment that down is up and up is down.

Having all that free time allowed me to come up with some observations to share with you.

Here they are:

• Doritos® are a marvelous invention. I am housebroken and I can cook, but Doritos® makes things taste better.

• Loneliness is awful. I am single, so I know what being alone is like. But, being in quarantine just makes it more real if there is such a thing. I never have been one to lift weights. I admire folks who are disciplined and physically fit, but that’s all I have to say about that. It’s not me. But, I can say I have bench pressed loneliness the last couple of weeks. It felt that heavy. I masked up and got in my Equinox just to drive around the neighborhood and wave at people. Yes, I’m the crazy fellow who was doing that.

• I’m kind of hoping all four U.S. Senate candidates lose. Good grief. If they weren’t sassing and yelling at me from the television, they were filling up my mailbox. Yes, I was lonely, but I didn’t want that kind of company.

I am so weary of the acid and vitriol that passes for our public discourse these days. One day I received 12 flyers in my mailbox. I am going to vote because it is my honor and sacred duty to do so, but good grief. None of the four will give us the time of day after January 5. And, think of the obscene amount of money being poured into these races when that money could be better spent on alleviating suffering especially in the ravages of the pandemic and especially at this season of Jesus’ birth. I can never buy the kind of influence all the multi-million donors to the four campaigns have so how on earth are they ever going to represent me? And yes I vehemently disagree with some stances of all four candidates, but I don’t hate them or their supporters nor do I believe them to be sub human. I simply disagree with them. This is America. That’s how we do things here. Or, it was. Come next week, regardless of who wins, we will still be bitterly divided as a nation. Why can’t we all be Americans again? As Mr. Lincoln once said,  “America is the last, best hope of earth.” There has to be a better way to show it.

• The question: Who is Alex Trebek?

The answer: Hands down the best game show host on television today. He and Bob Barker are the quintessential game show hosts.  I know Alex is gone now, but I got to watch the last few episodes he recorded before his death.

He kept my mind sharp, he is kind and easy going and he is an old friend I welcome into my home for a visit on weeknights. I’m sad to see him go.

• Chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream helps my feelings. I pigged out on both while I was in quarantine.

I am glad to be back out and about and free again.

The next state I want to be in is happiness. There is no coronavirus or pandemics there. There are no politicians there polluting the airwaves and jamming up the mail. You don’t have to bench press loneliness in that location. And there’s a life-time supply of Doritos®, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

I’ll take a one way ticket there.

Wanna come?

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.