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Bustin’ Out

Unruly weather notwithstanding, spring has finally sprung: flowers are blooming and Mother’s Day is upon us, graduations have already begun in some areas of the country, the Memorial Day summer send-off is not far away, and travel prediction numbers are approaching pre-2019 levels. June may not be “bustin’ out all over” yet, but everything and everybody else sure seems to be. 

     We had company from Connecticut last week, our first houseguest in three years. Had to really clean out and spruce up that guest suite, which we had been using for extra wine storage during the pandemic. (So we drank the wine and that solved that problem.) Interesting, though, to gear up for a guest once again — sort of like trying to remember what goes with what in your wardrobe after having not worn anything but yoga pants and t-shirts for so long. And then there was the planning for things to do while our friend was here, while still avoiding the lingering crowds of Fiesta. 

     The week ended up well and we all enjoyed each other’s company, which was the main thing after not being together since 2019. I’ve missed my friends, of course, but am still not entirely without Covid apprehensions regarding wearing masks and social distancing. I know, I know … everyone has long-since moved on from even the most basic precautions and, ironically, after being so cautious for so long, we got Covid anyway on the long flight to New Zealand in February. Maybe it really is that I’ve simply come to not like crowds of strangers anywhere anytime, Covid threats or not.

     The World Health Organization recently declared the Covid crisis over, and the CDC lifted the emergency Covid declaration in the United States this week (even though there are still more than 1,000 people dying of Covid each week here.)  But, as Dr. Ashish Jha, former Covid response coordinator for the CDC has emphasized, the virus hasn’t gone away; it’s still a threat, but no longer an emergency. Covid will now be treated like any other respiratory ailment, though the U.S. may not be fully prepared for a different future variant or a new pandemic. Okay, so we’ll all worry about that later.

     Declarations or not, most Americans seem to have begun to “worry about it later” a long time ago, as though wishing it were not a real threat would make it so. This is especially true in states like mine, where some businesses and schools were reopened as early as May of 2020, in spite or record numbers of Covid cases. Ultimately, lawsuits were waged and bans on masks and crowd sizes were abolished, and life began to resume in most places for the sake of the economy. Some of us, though, didn’t buy into all that premature normalcy, and we were grateful that we didn’t have to try.

     Yet now here we are, finding ourselves reluctantly sliding into “normalcy” in spite of any personal misgivings. I’m going out to restaurants at regular mealtimes now, instead of at off hours; I’m going shopping and removing my mask when the store really isn’t crowded; I’m taking trips and short flights (we will be flying to Mexico in a few days);  and I’m no longer concerned about repairmen, service people — or even guests — coming to my house without being masked up. Maybe since I had a mild case of Covid after all, I feel more confident about surviving if I get it again. Or maybe, like everyone else, I am just tired of being so vigilant and so isolated and so paranoid about this pandemic that I’ve come to the conclusion that life is short and that something will get you in the end anyway. 

     But the joy of friendship is, in itself, enlivening. Had friends from New York come in for their grandson’s graduation this week, have a former student/friend coming in from Florida later in the month, and just last night we penciled in a visit from an old friend in Minneapolis for a couple days in July. The guest suite is open for reservations and it feels good. My husband and I are even making some reservations of our own for a couple short trips later this year.

     To date, 1.1 million people have died of Covid-19 in America, more than all who were killed in both World Wars. America has had more lives lost in this pandemic than any other country in the world, and that’s even considering that our figures are likely under-reported. But the time has come to “bust out,” pandemic be damned. After all, there are so many other more imminent threats to fear, as our politicians keep reminding us.

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