Yesterday, the day that marked two weeks since we had our second jab, my husband woke up and declared it “Liberation Day”. One of his favorite things has always been going out to restaurants, so this would be our way of celebrating. He woke up thinking about the crab and avocado omelette at Elmer’s, here in Palm Springs, but evidently everyone else was celebrating too, and it had a bunch of people milling about outside waiting for a table under the tents on the lawn. We drove right by, opting for IHOP. We know how to order there, always sharing the spinach. mushroom omelette, hold the Hollandaise, and this time splurging on the side of pancakes rather than the dry English muffin with honey on it, our usual WeightWatcher’s meal. We entered with our masks on, and were shocked to be able to sit inside, where every other table was marked as unavailable. It felt a little scary to say, yes, we’ll stay in here, rather than sit out on the patio, but we have faith in the vaccination protection, and decided to go for it.
Since we’ve been eating at home so much, Doug has adopted cooking as his new hobby. He often starts planning our main course for dinner in the morning, looking up recipes on the iPhone, and writing them down on scraps of paper. I find lists of concoctions for marinades, and cooking times attached to the refrigerator door with magnets. I’m in charge of the vegetable for dinner, and have felt I’ve had to “up my game”, like going from steamed asparagus dipped in mayo, like my Mama used to serve, to sautéed pieces of asparagus with mushrooms, onions, garlic and seasoning. Thankfully, he is usually willing to be my sous chef, cutting up the extra veggies.
In honor of this special day, he also got the idea that we should invite another couple over for happy hour. It’s been so long since we’ve had anyone over for a visit, that we really felt we were getting away with something. We sat outside on the patio, without masks, with our drinks and cheese and crackers, and Doug dazzled them with some sautéed shrimp and scallops that he served on toothpicks, still being careful, even though we were all vaccinated. Just to be able to sit and visit (still about 6 feet apart), and laugh together was invigorating. They loved sitting under the palm tree, watching the antics of the birds at our feeders.
I wonder what we have learned, if anything from this last year? For one thing, I know it helps if you enjoy being with the one you’re in isolation with. We’ve had a much easier time than most folks, being retired, living in a warm climate, and having the chance to plant a garden, swim, or easily take walks. We think about the parents with children at home, having to help them with distance learning, while still trying to make a living wage. We’ve grown to be standoffish with people, six feet apart, but it turns out that wearing a mask and social distancing has also prevented, it seems, many cases of seasonal flu.
But imagine a child growing up without a hug from his from grandparents, or with masks on as they toddle along. Young children have been missing out on playing with friends or seeing them at school, or having a chance to meet someone and go on a date when they are teenagers. They’ve been sucked in to their computers for everything from Zoom chats, to online classes, and video games. That has begun to seem “the normal” for them, since of course, they haven’t known anything different.
We’ll continue to wear our masks, but it’s been a long time since I’ve given a hug to anyone but my husband, only holding out my empty arms in a circle and making eye contact with the virtual recipient. Even though I’m a survivor of 2 jabs, I still find myself very resistant to anyone coming close to me in my comfort zone. It’ll take us some time to get used to being closer to people, but pretty soon, because of the vaccine, which was produced for us amazingly fast, we’ll be “Free! Free! Free at last!!”