It’s possible that I haven’t been to Reisterstown in thirty years. Thoughts of taking public transportation after work to my childcare certification classes were running through my head yesterday as I used the GPS in my iPhone to find my way to a CVS on Reisterstown Road. A lot about my life has changed in those years.
I was far outside my usual bubble and headed to an appointment for my first COVID vaccine thanks to a friend with mad appointment-setting skills.
For those of you following along at home, this was my first visit inside a retail establishment since mid-March of 2020. Holy Mackerel - - Easter Candy! - - was my immediate internal response. People, merchandise, lights, signage, labels, displays...it has been a long time since I’ve been out. What a cheap date I would be these days: let’s go to the CVS and look at Easter Candy.
In the interest of brevity, I won’t outline every detail of my visit. Most important to me is the conversation with the nurse who administered my vaccine.
“Good morning, how are you today?”
“Yes, excited to get my vaccine. And excited to be here. This is the first time I’ve been in a store since March of 2020.”
“Yes, it’s crazy how excited I am to look at Easter candy. I’m looking forward to being back.”
“I never left,” the nurse said quietly as she pushed up my sleeve.
I sat with that for a minute in an uncomfortable silence. I watched her prepare the syringe.
“You have the most important job of all,” I said, finally. “I’m so grateful you are here. I’ve been very sick over the last year and I haven’t been able to leave the house.”
It was her turn to think for a minute.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. Then, “so I guess you’re able to work from home?”
“I was for a while, when we were teaching virtually. But when we reopened, I...couldn't.” Pause. “I can’t wait to be able to go back.”
She nodded. Swabbed my arm with alcohol. There was so much unsaid. So much difference in our circumstances. I felt my privilege weigh heavily on me as I sat there.
Then it was over. I thanked her and moved along with my timer to wait my required fifteen minutes in case of a reaction. I found a chair over by the pharmacy and sat. And thought about how I have been safely at home and she hasn’t. How I feel delightfully kooky to be delighted by displays of Easter candy and she can’t even fathom the circumstances that allow that.
I am grateful for her. I don’t think that’s enough, though. I’m still thinking about it.