Monday, June 21, 2021

Dive in

Now that I - and most of the people I know - have been vaccinated, it's time to start thinking about getting back to normal. A new normal, I think, because there were things wrong with the old normal, and if this has not been a chance for a reset, then we've learned nothing.

 I've actually enjoyed the lack of peopling during the pandemic, but that doesn't mean I can avoid them indefinitely. Nor do I want to.

An local acquaintance recently sent out an invite for a party on Friday night. She asked her guests to provide proof of vaccination, so we would be comfortable being around each other, but we could certainly still mask up if that made us more comfortable. She noted that the party would be held both indoors and outdoors, so we could pick the zone where, again, we felt the most comfortable.

When I accepted the invitation and sent my proof of vaccine, I was excited about going. As the day grew closer, it began to feel more like work than pleasure, and by the time I left the house - I still went, despite having reached a level of existential dread usually only provoked by large family gatherings - it was just as likely I would run for the hills as walk the five blocks to her house.

I met up with a friend on my way there, and within a block, we ran into two more women, each walking with a dish, or a bakery box, all of us radiating twitchiness and nerves and a general aura of not having left our house for a year plus.

Thankfully, when we got there, there was a full bar, because there were also at least 60 women spread out over the front porch, living room, dining room, kitchen and back deck. I haven't been around this many people in 16 months, and I admit it was really, really unnerving at first.

I wasn't alone in that feeling. There were lots of jokes about not remembering how to behave in public, and reaching up to remove non-existent masks before eating or drinking. It made us all feel a little better, knowing we were in the same unfamiliar boat.

The plan was only to stay for an hour, but I ended up staying for nearly three. The second glass of box rosé really helped, but it was also talking to a lot of women who had been through similar things and were feeling the same conflicted feelings about getting back to normal.

Anyway, I've done it. I've gone to a party, without a mask, talked to a whole bunch of people, and lived to tell the tale. Now that I think about it, it always has been my MO - if I'm scared of something, the best thing I can do is plunge in and think about it afterwards.

What about you? Have you been out and about yet? Does it feel weird? Normal? What is normal, anyway?

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