For the last year, the prospect of contracting COVID-19 scared me. I stayed at home, masked up, ate in, sanitized, used curbside grocery shopping, modified holidays until they were almost unrecognizable, and generally hunkered down to ride it out. I got used to the new routines and stayed very faithful to them, partly out of concern for others, and partly out of self-preservation. I watched the pandemic roll across the globe, and I was afraid. For myself, for my aged parents, for my children and their children, and for all of us.

On Friday we will get our second round of Moderna, and join the growing group of people who have taken an important step toward beating back the pandemic. We’re beginning to talk about seeing friends, visiting our children and my parents, going into a grocery, a bookstore, a restaurant.

And I’m afraid.

I’m an introvert and have usually been at least a little uncomfortable in groups. My private nature has made hunkering down a relatively small adjustment, and I mostly worried in a general sense about the essential workers, and wondered at the risks the more (daring, reckless, stupid — pick your descriptor) among the rest of us were willing to accept. The thought of stepping back into the world scares the hell out of me.

One of our friends asked us to join him and his wife to celebrate her birthday yesterday. It was just the four of us, they have been as careful as we have been, we were out on their porch, they are fully vaccinated, and we have already had the first round. It was a relatively short visit, no birthday hugs, and all four of us were very careful. I spent a good portion of the morning worrying about the lunch visit. While it was really good to make contact, limited as it was, with good friends, it was hard. That very small step was difficult.

It took a little while to settle into the quarantine routine; I wonder about letting go of it. It’s become comfortable. I think about picking up where I left off a year ago, and it seems so very risky, like I’m consciously deciding to put myself and those around me at risk.

Life is risk. I know this. I know I’ll figure out how to adjust to whatever the new parameters and expectations are. Learning how to minimize risk in the post-quarantine environment is going to be a challenge for all of us, and scary for some, including me.

Wish me luck, y’all.

A Lost Year?

I am beginning to see more people voicing disagreement with the characterization of our children as having lost a year of school due to the pandemic, and I’m glad that is happening. While it is true that they have lost classroom time, it is not the case that they have gone a year without education.

We can, if we choose, regard these children as having been through an experience that is not quantifiable or measurable by any standardized test, a lesson in adaptation and resilience that could not have been planned or fit into a curriculum. We can try to be alert and sensitive to the emotional, physical, and spiritual damage that might have been done and also help them understand what new skills and strengths they have now. 

The above is true for the rest of us as well, and surviving this gives us all a unique opportunity to reinvent the world and our place in it. It would be a shame if we let it slip away from us while we tried to hang on to the way it used to be. There are things we have set aside, and soon we will begin deciding whether or not to pick them up again. Those decisions are better done on purpose, rather than without consideration. We all change the world in small ways every day, sometimes in one direction, sometimes another. Here is a chance to do so deliberately.

The pandemic has not offered us many silver linings, but this is a big one.