You could say I had a head start on the lockdown business. A knee injury laid me low in September 2019. I’d barely resumed something like a regular lifestyle in early 2020, when BAM — the world shut down on a stunningly grand scale.
One upside of these back-to-back confinements is that I more than ever appreciate how very blessed I am to have loving, supportive family and friends. This small but mighty network’s kept me slightly saner and potentially safer — even if our time together has had to be virtual for the most part.
I’m no techie, but I’ve gotten surprisingly proficient at video chats with our kids. However, my confidence level ends there. My only two large-scale Zoom experiences proved frustrating rather than satisfying, providing a disorienting fly-on-the-wall perspective, instead of the sense of true connection that I’d hoped for.
This lengthy experiment with a dislocated, abstract social life solidified my long-held theory that I’m a confirmed introvert with a smattering of extrovert tendencies. That may explain why, although I’ve perhaps fared better through a prevailing isolation than the more socially inclined, I’m also looking forward to once again spending real time with real people besides my two magnificently patient housemates.
Yet, with much of the bad stuff seemingly receding, millions of us vaccinated and restrictions lifting, I find myself strangely ambivalent about returning to the old ways. I’m pretty sure that I’ve developed a sort of Stockholm syndrome towards my COVID-19 captivity. I’ve grown perhaps too comfortable in my beautiful little bubble.
There’s no doubt I need to be around human beings, but I have considerable qualms regarding the precise degree I’m ready or willing to move back “out there.” I can easily see myself visiting with loved ones and good friends and dining al fresco or in someone’s home. But I’m still disinclined to eat indoors at a crowded restaurant, go shopping without a face covering or watch a movie in a theater. I know those things will eventually come, but for now I’m good with generally continuing to keep a low profile in public.
My initial big challenge comes next week, when my husband and I head to upstate New York for a wedding. It’ll be the first time since COVID came to call that I’ll be exceeding our four-state travel boundaries, and the first large gathering of people I’ll be navigating in over two years. I have a basic black mask (because you never know), my tummy control shapewear (because, well, just because) and a rarely worn formal dress all fully prepped and primed. But am I?
After the emotional weariness and social disconnect of the past year, I’m having difficulty envisioning my sudden immersion into a broader, less circumspect existence with a spring in my most tolerable pair of dress shoes.
Perhaps I’ll take courage and inspiration from the joyful nature of the event we’ll be part of. It seems perfectly fitting to be reentering a restored reality in order to bear witness to the start of a couple’s lifetime of adventure, after having just endured the adventure of a lifetime.
It appears the season to begin shedding my pandemic cocoon has arrived — whether I’m ready or not.
Wish me luck, and the same to you.
Woodsboro resident Susan Writer is curious to see what the post-pandemic world will look like. She wishes everyone healthy, vaccinated and safe. Contact her at email@example.com. or visit her at Uexpress.com’s Ask Someone Else’s Mom.