It feels a bit like climbing out of a cave. Since the middle of March 2020 we have basically been sheltering at home. Not utterly, but pretty close. We have grocery shopped, bought take out, and only gone to other stores during periods when infection curves have dipped. Our main in-person interactions have been plein air painting with art friends, a few outdoor visits with our son and daughter-in-law, and doctor and dental visits. I am one of those fortunate who can work at home and, thanks to good internet, have had tons of interactions with friends, and even those I’ve not talked to for years.
We’ve stayed healthy, by the grace of God. Simply being the age we are is a co-morbidity, so this is a blessing. We’ve followed the health advisories. And we’ve been fully vaccinated for over a month.
We’re taking our first tentative steps out of the cave. A few more shopping outings. Painting with our friends. This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day with our son and daughter-in-law who are also fully vaccinated. We expect to hug them for the first time in fifteen months. Unmasked. We have a few other such meet ups on the calendar with vaccinated friends this month. We’re having a crew in to do radon mitigation on our home (something probably most homes in Ohio need–it’s just the geology). We’re starting to plan the bathroom re-model we’ve been using our stimulus checks to save for.
It still feels a bit weird and awkward. We’re not ready for indoor dining at restaurants or other larger gatherings where not everyone is vaccinated, especially indoors. I wish I could figure out how to help those who won’t accept vaccinations understand that this fact alone restrains me, and I think others from engaging in many gatherings, especially where mask-wearing is intermittent. There are counties in my state with low vaccine acceptance and higher infection rates. They depend on tourism and we’ve obliged in the past. Not now. You want me back? Get vaccinated and get your COVID rates down.
Have you noticed the new dance when we talk about getting together? We often mention when we reached our full immunity date as do others. Then we know we’re “safe.” I wonder what the etiquette is when someone is not vaccinated. Do we just ignore the risks (more to them, really) and feel awkward.
Our church has not met in person but will start to do so this summer. It’s a place where there has been high vaccine acceptance. Still, it will probably feel a bit strange at first.
I hope to catch a Clippers baseball game this summer. Enjoying America’s pastime on a summer evening in the open air ranks among my favorite things. There will probably be a few more trips to bookstores. There are some in the area I’ve not been to that I’d like to check out and write about. And if things keep getting better, I hope to rejoin my local choir in the fall.
You can tell we’re still on the cautious side. This all still feels provisional. We wish we could just get the whole world, especially the poorer parts, fully vaccinated, so this virus would run out of hosts that offer it opportunities to multiply and mutate. Until then, we run the risk of variants that break through the protection vaccines currently offer, and the variants spread fast in our global village. I don’t think of vaccines as making us virus proof. They make us harder to infect. But with the vaccine, we will start edging out of the cave and doing some of the things that are less risky to us now than before.
I hope we don’t have to return to the cave. But we don’t know what will happen with the virus. The worst nightmare is that it keeps getting more infectious and also causes more severe illness with high mortality rates. As long as it is out there, especially at significant levels, that is possible, especially with over half the country and much more of the world un-vaccinated. Because of that, I can’t think of a return to pre-pandemic “normal.” That is living in a dream. But like most of you, I will enjoy a bit more life outside the cave this summer.