What are you looking forward to?

On Thursday, I received my second dose of vaccine. I spent Friday flat on my back, really glad that I never caught Covid itself. Saturday, I was a little shaky, and yesterday I was back in fighting spirit.

This morning, I thought to myself, Only two weeks to go, and then I can start to…

Now, I recognize that there are many things that I won’t do in the near future. A friend mentioned that in her neighborhood – over by Times Square – she is appalled by the number of people not wearing masks, the number of visitors from out of town, the crowds in the M&M store and the grocery stores. “There was no one at the door checking temperatures; no one counting the number of customers going in and coming out, monitoring the crowd sizes,” she said with a shudder. Even the pageantry of precaution disappears when that great god, Mammon, calls. (I anticipate more surges.)

I will certainly be avoiding crowded spaces – which I did even pre-Covid, crowds making me feel claustrophobic – and indoor dining is out for the foreseeable future. I foresee wearing a mask for months to come. And I can’t imagine going back to the crowded, sweaty yoga studio that I loved so much. But there are a few things that I look forward to.

  • I look forward to getting together with vaccinated friends, in person. One of my friends and I who share a birthday are already planning to pick up dinner somewhere and eat in a park or dine outdoors, if we can find a restaurant that won’t be too crowded and where outdoor dining is really outdoors.
  • I look forward to going back to the office. Although it will be significantly different – masking, no watercooler talk, hoteling of my team – I hate working from home. I hate not being around others. I hate that my tiny little apartment does not offer an ergonomic opportunity for working from home. I hate listening to my husband’s conference calls in the next room or to the TV, which he turns on at 6 a.m. and leaves on until after I go to bed. I hate how close I am to the kitchen and how hard it is to get out of the house in the morning for exercise. The only thing that would make going back to the office better would be if my husband were also going back to the office. Why do I care? Because then the apartment that I clean in the morning would still be clean when I come home at night. He has the option to go back now but his organization made the decision to hotel their space and he is introverted. Introverted people like having a space that is theirs to retreat to, when being in groups gets to be too much. Hoteling discriminates against this.
  • I look forward to taking a load of crap to the storage unit. In 2019, we accumulated a ton of new stuff but before we could take the cartons to the storage unit – our storage unit is probably 30% full of empty cartons for appliances and equipment that will come in handy some day when we move again – lockdown hit. And we have accumulated more stuff since then, with more cartons that need to move to storage.
  • I look forward to taking a load of clothes to Bottomless Closet, a non-profit that provides women with limited access to resources with training and clothing to help them get and keep jobs. In late 2019, I did a full sweep of my closet and pulled out half-a-dozen suits and several identical Ann Taylor dresses, as well uncountable Talbots blouses and slacks that I never wanted to see again – but I didn’t want to take a morning off from my new job to drop them by the BC office which is in the opposite direction from my office and inconveniently only open during office hours. Just as I reached the point where I thought, Ok, I can take a day off now, everything shut down.
  • I am looking forward to going upstate. I love going upstate in the summer, spending time outdoors and we spent all of last summer trapped in our apartment, being good about staying put. While friends departed for the Catskills and Newport and Africa. We were confident we were doing the right thing but oh! was it hard to do.
  • I look forward, when the CDC says it’s safe, to visiting my sister and my mom on the other coast. The lockdown has been particularly hard on daughters caring for their elderly parents. There is a national paid caregiver shortage and, at least in my sister’s community, paid caregivers have been extremely reluctant to mask or to get vaccinated. After one of Mom’s caregivers tested positive for Covid after coming to work sick, my sister had to lay down the law. At least don’t come to work if you’re sick. So now they call out “sick” more often, throwing the burden of care back on my sister who then has to take a day off from work to do the caregiving. Usually I fly out to spell her once or twice a year but it will have been almost 2 years since I last gave her a break, and the strain is showing. Imagine working full-time at a paying job, then part time at an unpaid job that doesn’t provide any PTO, even unpaid PTO. That’s what it’s been like for her.

There are other things I look forward to that will have to wait – in-person professional organization meetings, Toastmasters in person, dining out on special occasions. And there are things that may be gone forever – shops I loved to browse, restaurants that no longer exist.

All that I have and everyone that I love is of the nature of change; I cannot escape their loss. I come here empty-handed and I leave empty-handed.

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