SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. On March 11th, all of our gigs were canceled. We flew home from West Virginia, the only state that hadn’t yet confirmed a Covid-19 case. I had returned home to our L.A. home countless times, but this was different. My wife Sal was in Sydney, and for once, Venice Beach felt very lonely.

My boys, Matthew and Joe, were near, and that was a comfort. Where to go, what to do? Sal and I, although 7,000 miles apart, felt we were both safe and should wait a few weeks as we all watched what developed.

May 1 was set and booked for my Sydney flight, but a two-week mandatory hotel quarantine was imposed for all returning Aussie nationals. I was granted an exemption to enter since I am married to an Australian, which was a much-needed spot of good news. But the quarantine was not negotiable. As weeks turned into a month, May 1 still seemed distant. Plan B: I booked an earlier flight, departing April 17. There were no direct flights from LAX then or now, so this required an initial connecting flight through San Francisco. Packed and beyond ready, I waited until the day arrived. My flight to San Francisco left early, with all four passengers on board. Masks, gloves, wipes, and gel. My pockets were full. A beautiful sunset landing in San Francisco, and my second empty airport of the day.

“Coffee please, black coffee,” I answered.

“I’m sorry sir, we’re not able to serve that with this very limited service.” I’ve had coffee every morning of my life for at least the last forty years, so this was again another first. Fine, onward—and I slept again for another two hours.

Forms were filled, announcements were made and after fourteen hours we approached Sydney over the harbor bridge. The entire entry process was very organized and, barring a minor issue with my visa –my deferment was a few pages deep in my paperwork — we collected bags and were directed to one of two buses. We still hadn’t been told where we were going although I knew the InterContinental Hotel was one of the six options, and the only five-star hotel included. Fingers crossed – a friend of the family had arrived two days earlier and was staying there. Would I also be so lucky? Yes, I was! Along with the other five passengers on my coach. A sigh of relief although we were soon told the bad news:

You cannot leave your room for fourteen days. The windows don’t open, there’s no smoking allowed at all. Are any of you smokers?”

One guy in the back raised his hand. “Well. good luck,” he was told.

I’ve spent half my life in hotels and often in far worse than the room I’d been assigned. I was accompanied by a soldier (Air Force) with my luggage but not issued a key. You are let in but not allowed out. Why would I need a key? in room 2419 looking out over a massive city construction site that is still in full swing. I did a live Skype feed with the Australian “Today” show the minute I was settled, which was bizarre, to say the least, but host Richard Wilkins is an old friend and we thought what the hell. It gave my Australian family and friends a chance to see that I was here and in pretty good shape. Also: a tub! Bonus! Not all hotels have them anymore and I figured that’s good for an hour a night.

“How to fill my time?” I’m a reader, which had always served me well for my years on the road, so I’d brought many books. The Cool School, a compilation by the late Glenn O’Brien of Beat and Jazz writers, is top of the pile. I joked with Wilkins on the “Today” show that maybe it was finally time for Proust. I had downloaded all seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past into my iPad.

I’m allowed deliveries, and Sal is the best cook on the planet, so the first day I was feasting on freshly made carbonara, home-baked focaccia & prosciutto. So, yes, I know…I’m a very lucky man. Nothing is allowed out of the room, including yours truly, so the new iPad I had brought Mrs. B will have to wait the two weeks as well.