As I am by many metrics an eccentric weirdo, my social patterns have not suffered significantly during the various stages of lockdown in the state and county. I don’t go to certain types of events or venues often enough to feel that I have been missing out on them during the COVID crisis.
There is one cafe near where I live that I look forward to visiting again for a writing session or two. Same goes for my branch library, and the small but effective Study Room 1 I reserve once a week or so.
But those things are still around, and will be so, even after all restrictions are lifted, and it is truly safe to do normal things in a normal way again.
Only once did I actively regret being unable to attend because of the virus situation. That was the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Frederick. (Actually there have been several smaller ones since the initial organized demonstration that attracted several thousand people.)
The professionals tell us that rallies and protests have strong potential to spread the virus, even when participants wear masks. The close contact, the chanting, the large numbers. Makes sense.
Yet I almost went anyway. This moment, the developing paradigm shift in racial reality in the United States may be the single most important such movement in my personal lifetime. It has to happen, and continue to happen.
And yet, I live with a potentially immunocompromised person. As fierce as is my support is for the movement, my caution against bringing the virus home is just as fierce; hence I stayed home at a time when, if you had mentioned it in the past, I wouldn’t have hesitated to participate for long.
Such times we live in. Such times. Not one, but two of potentially the biggest social change catalysts happening at the exact same time. The one could have, and in my case did, cancel out being present for the other in person.
Yet for many in Frederick, it did not. I am heartened by that. I ultimately stand by my decision to stay home, and part of me fears for those who have gone out during the pandemic to protest.
I applaud the same people. They aren’t ignorant of the risk, and they are taking it anyway. I completely understand why they feel such a burning need to do so. I hope all of them also understand my need not to do so.