Yesterday morning found me waiting in line at the CVS on Reisterstown Road for my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Same store, two weeks later. There was still Easter candy but the displays were less plentiful, more picked-over than before. It didn’t seem so shiny and miraculous as the last time I was there. It was just a store. I’ve seen stores before.
I realized as I stood there that perhaps I am not so excited about going back to the real world as I thought I was. This article by Howard County writer Amanda Loudin kept me company as I moved from one bright yellow tape line to the next, physically distanced from my fellow vaccine-waiters.
Post-Vaccine, Your Body Is Safer, but Your Mind Can’t Catch Up
Vaccination offers protection against the viral threat, but your brain needs time to reset after a year living with the fear
It’s clearly going to take me a while to feel comfortable being around people, although, to be honest, I’ve never been all that great at it. But now the sight of crowds packed together at sporting events gives me a visceral sense of danger. When I see people crowing jubilantly about “returning to normal” I’m not sure my brain recognizes what we used to live like as “normal” anymore. From Loudin’s article:
...Gersten’s foundation in science tells her on an intellectual level that she’s largely protected from the coronavirus; emotionally, however, her brain can’t catch up.
“If you fall off a horse, you get back on,” she says. “I understand that, but in this case it’s tough to make the mental switch after a year of living in fear.”
It’s not simply about fear of illness, either. The responses of some in our community in mocking the severity of the pandemic, demeaning teachers, criticizing public servants - - knowing that those people are out there doesn't make returning to the real world very appealing to me. We’ve seen such a blatant display of selfishness and mean-spiritedness in Howard County over the last year.
I guess it was always there. I was happier when I didn’t know.
As I began to write this morning I asked myself if there was anything in the real world that I’m genuinely excited to return to. The first thing that entered my head was this.