Friday, May 14, 2021

Lies I Tell Myself as We Near the End of the Pandemic

With about a third of the US population having been fully vaccinated to date, many more among us are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. My social media feed is replete with posts from people saying they've allowed their imaginations to wander in the post-pandemic realm, almost tasting the sweeter, vibrant flavors of 'normal' life once again. If I'm being honest, I've also caught myself a few times doing the same, fantasizing about post-pandemic life. Why wouldn't I? The number of infected cases nationwide continues to go down. The CDC has relaxed some of its guidance with regard to mask-wearing and gathering. People around me are optimistic this will all be over very, very soon.

These are the things I catch myself thinking these days:

When all this is over, once this pandemic is behind us—

...I'd be travelling a lot.

...I'll host parties again, immediately, and hug tightly every guest that comes through our door.

...I'd probably go out almost every day, and run the silliest errands just to get out of the house and see people. I will touch merchandise on the store shelves because I've missed that so much this past year. I know I'll be taking my time perusing every aisle on Home Goods, Target, and Walmart, and for once not care if the stores are even crowded.

...I'll rush to all the newly opened restaurants in town and savor the sorely missed nirvana called 'dine-in'.

...I'll invite friends to a mask-burning ceremony because I'm just so over these masks and finally want to liberate my face!

If only any of that were true. But who am I kidding? Other than the additional weight I've put on, and my intensified love affair with loose, garterized clothing, I'm still the old neurotic and introverted me, and I know my imagined scenarios cited above are all but lies. 

Here's the truth...

In all honesty, the fun part of travelling for me is the challenge of packing and being able to organize and compartmentalize our bags or suitcases; I'm sure my germaphobia is now even worse than ever, hence can't really imagine how there can be a marriage between the words 'travel' and 'fun'. 

The pandemic has been really kind to my introversion, in that, it's given me a break from the pressure of having a busy social calendar. I've loved staying put, staying in, not wondering where we should go and explore, what to wear, how to fix my face and hair. Though I miss hanging out with my closest friends, I definitely haven't missed the stress of having to make the house look 'guest-worthy' and the pressure of putting together a decent menu to accommodate other people's picky palates for parties. And let's be real. It'll probably be a while before I feel genuinely comfortable with hanging out with people who don't observe similar safety measures as we do in our family (and yes, we've been very strict, even worse than Dr. Fauci). Hence, I don't see myself in the near future freely hugging others without having to require proof of vaccination. 

I've never enjoyed shopping for extended periods, always avoided touching too many things in stores, and consistently hated crowds. So, nope, the real me, same old me, will not suddenly be rushing out to go shopping for hours on end.

Restaurants and dine-in?...No, thank you. Not anytime soon for sure.

Lastly, I'm a mask fan. Sorry, not sorry. Yes it's not the most comfortable thing on the planet, but it's definitely kept me and my family virus-free in the past year. None of us caught even the mildest cold, and it's been heavenly! I really hope seasonal masking, at the very least, will be here to stay.

Inasmuch as I'm with the populace at large in wanting this pandemic to enddrowning in exhaustion from the perpetual fear of becoming severely ill from this virus and losing loved onesit would be a lie to say I'm brimming with excitement about bursting my small pandemic bubble. During this past year, my introverted personality had the time of its life. I've felt in control, my boundaries enforced without feeling bad about it or needing to explain and apologize why I can't be around people. 

Though I know this isn't sustainableand I accept thatI've also been feeling like I need to remind the rest of the world to take it slow and be prudent with their excitement about going back to the 'old normal'. I have two words for you: Independence Day. I'm talking about the 1996 movie, specifically that scene where the military decided to nuke the alien ship and was so sure they had destroyed it, only to realize a minute later that their solution was a total failure and the enemy was unscathed. 

I'm not saying we are failing. All I'm suggesting is that we all take Will Smith's character's stance. He kept saying, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings". 

The virus is still killing tens of thousands of people daily around the world. For God's sake, do what you can to be part of the solution. Wear your mask when needed. Keep your distance. Take the vaccine. Listen to science. It may be comforting to lie to ourselves once in a while and fantasize about a beautiful post-pandemic world, but this isn't yet the time to light that cigar and completely let our guard down...not until the fat lady sings.