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.