I haven’t written for two months. I thought it was simply that I had nothing to say, nothing new, nothing that hasn’t already been said by me or others. Now I think it is more that my sense of story is being violated. I like beginning-middle-end. The story of the past 400 days is not that.
I happily wrote many thoughts and observances at the beginning of the pandemic. A new situation! What happens next? Is this a horror story, a tragedy, a heroic adventure or what? Definitely something to observe, mull over, write about.
Then we moved into the middle. Things unfolded. Yes, a horror story. No, wait. Tragedy. Humongous tragedy. Multiple tragedies, conflicts, drama. An election. Racist police killings. A country falling apart. Life going on in a new and deeper way. Zoom. Heroism. Vaccine! Limbo. Waiting for the resolution.
Now here we are a full year+ later. I am ready for this story to be over. But I feel like we are in an endless middle. Middle-middle-middle. Muddle.
I am in the “fully vaccinated” category and I am grateful but confused. This should mark some kind of end. Instead, I find myself thinking, is this all there is?
We can visit the grandkids but they’re still not in school because their state is a wildly hot spot and we stay masked around the older ones and meet outside. We can dine in restaurants, pulling our masks on and off as appropriate, and socially distanced, but finding restaurant dining less of a treat than it used to be. (Sorry, hospitality industry.) Maybe because the food and ambience have to be really special to be worth the bother? I dared to invite a church committee to meet at my house because we’re all vaccinated but since one member had recently traveled to South America we thought we should stay masked.
I did throw one really good, unmasked party after we reached immune status. All the attenders had been seeing each other unmasked though they hadn’t all been vaccinated. We were inside and out. We laughed on each other so much that if there had been viruses about we would all have inhaled. It was wicked good fun.
Masks continue to frustrate me as a hearing-impaired person. Church begins meeting in person again this Sunday—outside, distanced, and masked. I agree with the caution, wholeheartedly. But perhaps, like restaurant dining, it will have to prove itself worth the bother. I crave face-to-face encounters but often find half-face-to-half-face encounters frustrating.
Why can’t we all just get vaccinated, right? But no. There have to be exceptions for people who don’t want it, who see it as a violation of their freedom to choose how to treat their bodies (does that sound like another familiar divisive issue?), for people who don’t trust science and the medical establishment, for people with certain conditions. And then there are the ones who can’t get it, like where states have been disorganized in their approach and like kids, on whom the vaccines haven’t yet been tested but who are still infectible and can be infectious.
Meanwhile, there has been so much backlash about shutdowns that state and local governments are rebelling or cowering and people are out there throwing caution to the wind, acting as if the story is over. I do understand this impulse. But all this means that the new variants are coming out and having a field day.
Well, what a case study in human nature and behavior, right? Including my own grousing and impatience.
I am ready to write the end of this story. Wake me when it happens.