My pandemic is over

For me, the pandemic ended last week. Two things happened: 1) I spent a week with a family member who was testing positive and I didn’t get sick; and 2) Japan opened to tourists.

The first event came with a day’s warning before my husband and I took our first flight since 2019. Louise, his oldest sister, who lives in Oregon, said she had tested positive after being exposed to her husband, who lives in nursing care and had just gotten Covid. But Louise had no symptoms except a cough. We and another sister and her husband, who had planned to meet us in Oregon, decided to go ahead with the trip.

We were careful—everybody was triply vaccinated and wore N95 masks most of the time. We spent most of our time outside, walking and talking and eating. The weather was wonderful. The company was wonderful. Everybody felt fine and nobody got sick. End of story. I felt free of pandemic worry and more secure about handling Covid if I did contract it. This seemed like a real bottom line.

Maybe in the same way, Japan decided to ease out of its pandemic worry. It was shut tight to tourists for most of the last two-and-a-half years, then opened to very restricted, small, fully guided tours over the summer. But while it was still all but shut down, Japan experienced a sharp wave of the latest Omicron variety, which may have suggested that foreigners weren’t to blame. So in late August, under pressure from economic leaders, the government announced that on September 7 the country would open to most kinds of non-guided tourism, although requiring bookings to be made through travel agencies.

I’ve been tracking this closely because for the past year I have been planning a trip to Japan—planning, scheduling, and actually booking, with money down. It’s not just me—this will be a Myers Girls trip, with my daughter, daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters, ages 3 and 12. We scheduled it for November 2022, with many assurances that Japan would probably be open by then as well as contingencies for refunds or rescheduling if it wasn’t.

But we’ve been biting our nails because Japan has been the last major holdout, besides China.

Now my travel consultant assures me that our trip is 100% good to go, time to pay the rest of that considerable chunk of cash. And I am going back to renewing my Japanese fluency in preparation for a super, fully planned, self-guided, once-in-a-lifetime blast of a trip with my girls.

The end of my pandemic apparently inspires me to take up writing again.

Is your pandemic over? If so, how did it end? What did it inspire you to do?

Celebrating the end of the pandemic on Mary’s Peak, Oregon. Can you tell which one has Covid?

Thursdays

During the pandemic, which I would like to think of in past tense although it is still going strong—our county has moved from yellow back into orange—Thursday became my favorite day of the week because it was marked by three treats that had become important to me. Three pandemic habits that helped get me through the days of semi-isolation gave me something to look forward to on Thursdays.

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A story with no end

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. Continue reading

Good church

Back in the days of going to church in an actual church building I used to comment to my husband, after some—not all—services, “That was good church.” What I usually meant was that some aspect, or some combination of the singing, sermon, and sharing during the worship service left me with a warm glow of inspiration.

I counted on but seldom gave credit to the thing that has really kept me going to church all these years, which is community. The “fellowship of the believers.” Continue reading

Coronasomnia

Six months or more into the pandemic there is a term for one of its side effects, which I am experiencing. “Experts Say ‘Coronasomnia’ Could Imperil Public Health,” according to this Washington Post article.

Evidently I am not alone in literally losing sleep over everything that is happening. I wouldn’t say it’s just the virus but rather the perfect storm of racism, deep political divisions, looming authoritarianism, and pandemic that wake me, achy and jittery, every night around two or three a.m. or prevent me from going to sleep in the first place. My body discomforts feed right into low terror about the country I will be bequeathing to my grandchildren.

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Comfort and joy in the Pink Lady

I have been wondering how to deal with the fact that my life is brimming with good things while others are suffering, and chaos reigns in many aspects of the larger society. There is a scale between guilt on the one hand and smug, oblivious self-satisfaction on the other that I am trying to navigate. A delicate point somewhere on that scale is a state of humble gratitude. It is delicate because it is hard to rest there for any length of time. It becomes easier when I think of gratitude as a mix of comfort and joy. That’s what I have been experiencing lately.

Let me raise a glass to current life in our house, the Pink Lady. I haven’t named her recently or written much here because things have been shuffling and changing over the past months. We are still in a pandemic, which in itself changes things. I haven’t had much new to say about that for a while. But now I see some surprising ways the pandemic has brought benefits to us, thanks partly to the vision we had when we bought this oversized old home three and a half years ago.

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