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COVID Year Four — Where Am I Now?

Out maskless at granddaughter's performance 

Reflecting back to March, 2020, we had just returned from our grandkids’ swim meet in Indiana where there was an inkling that sitting in pool bleachers with other screaming spectators might not be a good thing. We were getting ready to put our home of 45 years on the market in anticipation of a May 1 move to a condo when the bottom fell out of life as we knew it.


We continued working to clear out things that had to be donated somewhere, but the ended with in a huge pile of discards in the basement, as places like Goodwill shut down, along with schools, restaurants, and many stores. When a pipe in the house we had just put on the market burst, resulting in extensive water damage, we fearfully let workers in to repair the damage, wearing bandanas as protective masks. These were also the days of washing our groceries and not opening mail for three days (have no idea where that came from) to allow germs to depart.


Needless to say, no one came to see our house, even after repairs were finished. Fear was rampant as so many died alone on ventilators in hospitals. We moved, set up our new home, and hoped that we were safe despite our exposure to all of the people associated with a move. We met our across-the-hall neighbors by opening our respective doors and talking through masks. We cautiously saw our in-town children and grandchildren, masks all around, one of whom went a zoom prom while the other missed middle school graduation.


In January, 2021, we got our first dose of COVID vaccine. There was an initial rush to find a place to get this precious vaccine, with some of our friends driving long distances. I was lucky to find a slot at the Evanston Senior Center to receive the first of seven vaccines to date. We made up rules as we went along. Going to Indiana to see our daughter’s family there was a bit of a gamble because red states were pretty lax about COVID restrictions, but seeing them was worth the risk.


Restaurants were not on our dance card, so socializing with friends and family was pretty much a carry-in affair. We found that we actually preferred this to noisy, crowded restaurants because of my hearing loss. These visits were so much more relaxing and we could stay as long as we liked, as no one was waiting for our table. This is one of the COVID accommodations we have decided to keep, although we have been to a few restaurants and indoor gatherings for special occasions.


So, as we enter year five, it is clear that COVID in some form is here to stay. As a 78-year-old with some underlying autoimmune issues, I am bewildered about what precautions, if any, I should be taking. My “rules” are arbitrary and unscientific. I still wear a mask in stores and large gatherings where I don’t know the people and the ventilation seems not great. I wear it in doctors’ waiting rooms on the assumption that someone else there may not be well, but none of my doctors or their staffs wear them. On the other hand, at my granddaughter’s dance recital in a high-ceilinged auditorium, I didn’t put it on. When I get a haircut or manicure and the salon is packed, mask on. Most of the time, I don’t bother. No one wears masks in our condo building or in the greater community.


Mostly, I want to be done with living this way. At my age, I would like to loosen up and enjoy the years I have left. I feel a bit like T.S. Eliot in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:


“And indeed there will be time To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?” …


I grow old … I grow old …       I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…  Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.” 


Indeed, do I dare to roll the dice, to resume my pre-COVID life?





by Laurie Levy
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