A step forward?

Castle MacDuff, East Wymyss, Scotland

Something strange happened yesterday.

My husband and I stopped by a farmer’s market. It was outdoors, in a beautifully wooded park. We had time to kill before we got haircuts, so we figured why not.

Before we got out of the car, we both put our masks on. I’d put my vaccination card in my purse a few weeks earlier – can’t even remember why I needed it with me – and had left it there. There’s a nice zippered pouch inside that holds it without it getting bent up/destroyed by the rest of the contents.

I really should get it laminated one day.

Anyway… we’re masked up and in line, waiting for it to open, when I noticed a sign: You don’t need to wear a mask in the market if you’re fully vaccinated.

Yes, I’m fully vaccinated. Have been for over a month. But I still wear my mask, take one with me, because individual businesses can set their own rules. I deal with people several times a week at my retail job who think that CDC guidelines trump rules set by privately own businesses.

They don’t when it comes to masks. If a store says you need to wear a mask to enter for another five years, they can. I am respectful of the rules of the establishment and will wear a mask if I want to shop there. It’s not rocket science.

Back to the market….

I remembered I had my card on me. I could prove it, if asked. I reached up and took my mask off, keeping it in my hands and ready to put back on if necessary. My husband’s also fully vaccinated (our immediate family is), but he didn’t have his card on him so he kept his on.

It was….odd to walk around the market, with people everywhere, and not have it on. It’s going to take getting used to not wearing a mask, just like it did to wear one.

My job still requires us all to wear masks while at work, and encourages our customers to do the same regardless of vaccination status. My husband’s employer has relaxed their rules. He was able to show proof of vaccination and received a button to wear so others know he’s clear to go without a mask.

As we wandered, I mentioned how strange it felt to be among others without it on. He’d felt the same the first few days at work. He still takes a mask every day, just in case. They had a positive case early last week.

COVID isn’t gone, and won’t be for a decade or more. I expected a yearly booster, same as the flu shot, before the vaccine was ready for clinical trials. The first steps back to pre-pandemic life, however, are going to be cautious ones for me.

Two weeks ago, we started to play D&D as normal – around a table, no masks.

This week, I wandered a market without my mask on.

In another week, we’re taking a short trip to Denver, Colorado. I don’t fly much to begin with, but it’ll be my first time since 2019. I should’ve gone to NYC with our son in 2020 for his senior trip. That didn’t happen.

We’re thinking about going to a concert in November….and possibly Disneyland in September.

Life is slowly returning to what we knew. I’m cautious, though. We were beyond fortunate during the last 15 months. I only know 4 people who actually tested positive for COVID. None died, thankfully. My husband worked the entire time, my store was closed for 3 months at the beginning of it all. Our kids came out fine, though one of our daughter’s roommates tested positive and the entire house went into lockdown.

I’m not afraid of the virus itself, or what it might do to me if I was exposed. However, I am and always will be concerned that me not taking appropriate precautions – even when vaccinated – will result in someone I know and care about getting sick.

I learned a lot about myself during the pandemic, and about some people I know. I know who checked up on me, who made sure my mental/emotional well being was being supported, and who needed to have a boundary put in place. I know who should be in what sphere of my life, and took a couple out of my circles completely. My hands reminded me I’m not totally infallible (seeing the specialist tomorrow to discuss surgical release in both fingers), and I lost it a few times.

There were a lot of lessons learned about what’s important and what’s not.

As life goes back to normal, I hope we as a society remember what we learned.

BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm

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