Last week I created a hybrid way of interacting with the world. July had been so free and easy, but August has brought outbreaks of Covid-19 in my area that forced me to rethink my plans for doing all of the things that I had avoided during the long months from March 2020 to May 2021. From May to the end of July I had become more and more inclined to feel as though the worst of our ordeal was over. I put away my masks and only carried a few in purse for use in places that were still requiring the face coverings, like doctors’ offices, some museums in New Mexico, and my hairdresser. I knew full well that not everyone that I encountered had been vaccinated, but I felt reasonably assured that I had protected myself and need not worry about somehow contracting the virus. Life felt really good and normal and fun once again.
With August came dire warnings and new guidelines. I’ve pulled out the full complement of my masks from the drawers where I had hidden them, and once again automatically don them wherever I go, no questions asked. It’s easy enough to do so, even though I really do not like the feeling of being behind a mask. It’s something that I have had to adapt to doing, and I find myself becoming just a bit more relaxed about the routine with a bit of practice. The good thing so far is that I have not felt the need to become a recluse again like I was in the time before I was fully vaccinated. I’ve been having fun and seeing people albeit in more controlled circumstances than a few weeks ago.
I suppose that in some ways my background has prepared me for being patient and willing to accept changes in my lifestyle without much fuss on my part. I grew up in the hot and humid days before air conditioning, a situation far more uncomfortable than sporting a mask in a cool indoor environment. My mom was on such a strict budget that we mostly found our fun at home, so I’m not someone who feels persecuted if I have to entertain myself in my own backyard. As a child I had to adapt to all sorts of situations that people might have seen as privations, but to me they were just the way things were. As long as I had three meals a day and a bed to sleep in at night, I felt genuinely lucky.
I suppose that I have viewed my personal experience throughout the pandemic in much the same way. I have missed the total freedom of my prior days, but on the whole life has been extraordinarily good. I have grieved over the loss of friends and acquaintances and worried about the welfare of others, but I have not resented having to adapt to new ways of behaving. I am happy to do my teeny tiny part in helping with the cause. I am more concerned with those who have lost their jobs and are on the brink of losing their homes. I worry about our youth who are most assuredly being impacted by the upheaval in ways that will change them forever. I am proud of those who have been flexible and conscious of the needs of everyone. Surely we are engaged in a worldwide community effort. When I see people working together without complaint I feel great hope for the future.
My husband and I had a wonderful day last week. We might have seen it as a disappointment given that we had to become more precautious again, but I found a sense of joy in knowing that we were not alone in being flexible to meet the current needs. We decided to spend the day getting out of the house. We began by enjoying fish tacos at one of our favorite haunts. We wore our masks upon entering and ordered our food from behind the cloth. We chose a table far from other patrons and felt relaxed and safe, and also good that we were not endangering anyone else in the event that we might somehow have contracted the virus.
We followed our lunch with a leisurely stroll through a local plant nursery. It was quite lovely to walk among the flowers and to see the butterflies and bees bustling happily from one bud to another. We followed up with a visit with my father-in-law and mother-in-law, a treat that has grown more important in the past many months. They are both in their nineties, and even though most people might think of us as old people we are their children and they have begun to rely more and more on us for their care. It makes the precautions that we take to stay well ever more important.
We ended our day browsing some of the stores in Highland Village, a shopping area that we have always enjoyed. Since we have been watching master class cooking programs we purchased a couple of tools for our culinary adventures that we did not yet have. Then we visited a lovely market where we bought fresh produce and baked bread. Nobody in any of the stores was spoiling for a fight about wearing masks. They sported their cloths of many colors and designs not so much resignedly but with the kind of twinkles in their eyes that serve as today’s smiles. It felt good to be among groups of people so universally adhering to common sense procedures without any fanfare or anger.
The whole world is exhausted. We want normalcy more than anything, but perhaps we simply need to accept a new way of behaving until some wonderful future time when the danger of spreading the virus has passed. We can have fun, but maybe not exactly the way we always have. Change is inevitable under any circumstances. Those who learn to adjust become the fittest who survive. I understood that lesson as a child and it has always served me well. I’m determined to be nimble and optimistic. Doing nothing but grumbling has never worked and never will.