I don’t enjoy wearing a mask. The elastic turns my ears elfish. Wearing my glasses cocked to hold down the mask alters my vision. And whoa, somebody’s breath sure stinks inside this mask! You’d think I’d be ecstatic that the CDC has said that in many settings, vaccinated people like me no longer have to wear a mask or distance.
Instead, I’m discombobulated. Not quite ready. I understand the rationale behind this policy change, but am struggling to process it.
COVID has been a harsh teacher. The randomness of who got deathly ill or who experienced long term debilitating effects kept me careful. My sister, who is a respiratory therapist, told me stories of her grueling ICU shifts. Awareness that COVID was real and deadly became a form of low-level anxiety. Unwinding that daily concern will take time.
When a friend I rarely see said she’d be in town and asked if we could go out to dinner, my immediate reaction wasn’t yippee! It was, I’m not sure. Am I ready to eat inside a busy restaurant? Could we do patio dining instead?
I do love hanging out unmasked with vaccinated family and friends. Masked, you learn to look at people’s eyes to see if they’re smiling or preoccupied. Now the full range of our expressions is visible.
Nevertheless, I’m not throwing out my masks. After 14 months of caution, I recognize the risk is reduced but not gone. Besides, although the state of Minnesota rescinded the mask mandate, Minneapolis and St. Paul have maintained it for a while longer.
Yet I remind myself that the point of living through a pandemic is to be alive. Fully. Masking narrowed my vision and limited my sense of possibility. After more than a year of looking inward, turning outward again will be good.
I keep telling myself that I will continue to wear a mask when out running errands yet I often forget…despite the fact that I still don’t run many errands because of COVID.
I have the same trouble. It’s confusing. I’ve been trying to mask as a courtesy to the workers, but several times I’ve forgotten my mask.
It’s a learning process for sure, and I think we all have different levels of risk we are willing to take. During this time of slowly coming out of the pandemic (in country, as much of the world is still struggling) I think the key is to be honest with ourselves and tolerant to those who are choosing differently. Great post!
Thanks for commenting— it means a lot to know someone is reading.
That’s exactly how I feel.
Glad I’m not the only one!