Are We There Yet?

By Lori Welch Brown

Are We There Yet?

Has everyone received their vaccines?  Some of you are on the fence, and I get it.  It’s been a scary year, and all this pandemic stuff is unprecedented, not to mention confusing.  It’s hard to know what to do, when to do it, and where to do it.  Personally speaking, I cannot wait to get in the queue for mine.  As of this writing, I have not had the opportunity, but I’m a coiled spring to roll up my sleeve and take it in the arm. 

In some respects this year has been unfathomably hard.  My ‘hard’ was not being able to see my Dad as well as other family members and friends.  My hard was way less hard than Dad’s however.  He was cooped up in a 10×12 room with no visitors, and due to his physical handicaps (wheelchair/limited vision), was at the mercy of his caregivers for TV watching, phone calls, etc.  It was tough on him, and yet his ‘hard’ may have been less hard than others’.  Everyone was impacted differently, and there really is no point in comparing and contrasting.  Suffering is suffering. 

Relatively speaking though, I had it easy.  I could make my way to a grocery store, dine outdoors when weather permitted, Zoom with friends, buy cutesy masks.  Sure, life was different and maybe even inconvenient at times, but it wasn’t hard beyond my worries over Dad and others like him.  I wasn’t impacted financially, and I (knock on wood) didn’t get sick.  My world got a little smaller, but that was okay.  I spent time with my neighbors, read more books, and caught up on the latest ‘must see’ Netflix and Prime shows. 

Privileges I have taken for granted were temporarily suspended.  Things we value as our ‘right’- like dining in restaurants and congregating in groups of more than ten – were taken away from us.  Many feel like being asked to wear a mask is a violation of their personal freedom.  I’ve never served in the military so I have no idea what it is to put my life on the line for freedom, but I’ll just say that I think we have a bit of a skewed view as to our rights vs. our privileges.  And, even then, when we are asked to do something for the good of the people vs. the inconvenience of the self, well…Put on the darn mask already.

The pandemic got political.  That was almost as hard as the pandemic itself.  Even within families and friends there were divisions.  Camps formed over maskers and non-maskers, Trumpers and anti-Trumpers, the far left and the far right.  Actually, you didn’t have to be far anything to feel the mounting tension.  Sad times made even sadder.  

Like many of you, I rediscovered the joy in stillness when many of my normal distractions were shuttered.  I sought community in unexpected places such as online classes.  When I couldn’t rub elbows with my fellow local artists at The Art League, I signed up for online workshops and learned intuitive painting techniques alongside folks from Australia to British Columbia to Pittsburgh.  My world got both smaller and bigger simultaneously.  Being quarantined stripped away all my excuses not to write.  I had the time and the space.  And, I likely had more people looking for more things to read.

I rediscovered the joy of slowing down and honed in on what really matters.  When you can’t see an aging parent, their importance takes on new meaning.  When you can’t visit a loved one in the hospital or hold their hand, you understand the value in closeness. 

Also like many of you, I gained some things—namely, an extra 19 pounds.  The COVID-19 is real folks.  I took the hunkering down to heart, and comforted myself with all the ooey, gooey feel-good foods—mac and cheese, chocolate chip everything, mashed taters loaded with butter.  You name it, I ate it.  And, if it came in a bottle with a cork, I drank it. I took to nightly desserts, and my waistline took to embracing them wholeheartedly.  When cold weather hit, and I went to trade my shorts for jeans, my jeans burst out laughing.  I ordered more yoga pants, and became a student of the wellness app, Noom.   

I feel badly for the businesses who have suffered, but there are others, like Noom, who have certainly prospered.  You’re welcome.  I’m in awe of the businesses who re-invented themselves in one way or another to stay afloat.  Restaurants shifted gears and stoked up their carry-out/delivery options, retailers offered curbside pickup options, etc.  Entrepreneurs got more creative and found new, better ideas to help us.  I am never ceased to be amazed by the ingenuity and grit of people. 

We survived, and we are coming through the other side. And like the rest of you, I can’t wait to put COVID-19 in my rearview mirror. 

As illuminating as this trip around the sun has been, I think we are all ready to get to our next destination—the one with the hugging and petting farm.  The one where we can sit across from each other and dance side by side.  The one where we can fling open the doors of our parents’ homes and race in for long-awaited embrace.  Sadly, many of us lost that opportunity thanks to COVID.  The one where we can safely return to our gyms and clubs and concert halls and movie theaters.  The one where we can toss hats in the air and cheer and whoop and holler.  The one where we can stand together, arm in arm, and show our gratitude for all that we have and move forward in faith and hope.  Because, you know, it’s the season of hope and faith. 

I just want to know, “Are we there yet?”  In the meantime, I’ll be over here watching Netflix.   

Happy Easter from my nest to yours. 

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