I spent the next few days happily imagining two weeks into the future, when we could gather for the first time indoors with other vaccinated friends. And hug them! I imagined traveling again, seeing family and friends whom we haven’t seen in more than a year. I imagined eating at a restaurant (outdoors) or visiting a museum (masked, but still!). I imagined anxiety-free grocery shopping for the first time in more than a year.
Crashing To Earth Again
And then, the disturbing news about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine broke. That’s the vaccine we chose, after much deliberation and research. I know that getting the vaccine is a far better alternative to getting Covid. Still, I sank into a couple of days of despair, wondering if I will ever again feel at ease in the world as it is now.
We’re teetering on the verge of regaining some semblance of normal, but still living with so many restrictions and so much uncertainty. And we’re grieving the immense collective and personal losses we’ve suffered, from the loss of family members and friends to the near-death experience of our democracy and critical thinking.
I’m still processing all that has happened this last year. I don’t know about you, but it’s going to take me some time to find my ‘new normal.’ Meanwhile, I hold to the hope that we will emerge from this crucible of social, political, and environmental catastrophes stronger, kinder, and wiser.
Baby Steps And Social Awkwardness
Two weeks after we got our vaccines, we started getting together with vaccinated friends, indoors and unmasked. We hugged! After more than a year of seeing friends only outdoors and socially distanced, it was thrilling.
Things are opening up in our social life, but the parameters are weirdly different than before. No more is it enough to just feel a spark of mutual interest when meeting someone new. Now a crucial question is, “Have you been vaccinated?” The answer establishes where and how and if we’ll socialize.
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The concerns about variants, questions about how long immunity lasts, and the official recommendations that change day-to-day are almost impossible to track. So we’ll just continue socializing in small groups with other vaccinated friends, avoiding large crowds, and masking up when we shop.
(Just as I was getting ready to publish this, I saw that the CDC did an abrupt about-face and said that if we’ve been vaccinated, we don’t need to wear masks indoors. Whaaat? My head is spinning. Thank you very much, but we’ll continue to wear masks indoors in public places and avoid crowded venues. This is crazy-making. I need time to adjust.)
Looking Back, And Looking Forward
Occasionally I think, “I could have used my pandemic year so much more productively! I could have become a better painter, I could have become a more skillful guitarist, I could have learned Spanish, I could have caught up on our blog, I could have organized my photo library.”
Mostly, I got through the year, and I didn’t acquire any new bad habits. I went for a long walk every day. I meditated. I kept in close contact with friends and family. I didn’t spend the entire year in my kitty cat pajamas, although there were days that I was tempted. I’m calling my year a success.
Now that we’re vaccinated, I’m going to see if I can find a painting teacher and a guitar teacher. When things open up in our little town, I’m going to find ways to be engaged in the community (I’d love to volunteer with local environmental groups, and I’d love to be involved at the local library with literacy programs.) And I’m going to finish writing about our summer and fall travel adventures from 2019. (Yes, I am. Don’t laugh.) We’re not planning any big travels until spring of 2022, so I have time.
Meanwhile, Nature Continues Her Magic
As always, we find peace and solace in nature. Spring migration has been wonderful and Eric has been taking beautiful photos. All this, in our backyard, in Apalachicola, and on nearby St. George Island.
I hope you’re finding your way back to normal, dear friends. Be kind to yourselves and each other.