Going Out After A Year

Cups of coffee with my ssiter

I confess, going out for a simple cup of coffee is still anxiety-inducing. Yes. I am fully vaccinated by any standard of public health. I can remove my mask while at the table and breathe air in, and enjoy the heat, the birds, and the quiet. We went to the farmer’s market over the course of the year. And I did limited trips to the supermarket to the absolute I can’t avoid it. With planning, I could pick it up at the parking lot, and I did more than a few times.

Yet, going out for a simple cup of coffee is still stressful, because I know there is still the COVID virus out there. I also know there are people who never took this seriously. Some of them will refuse the vaccine for a shifting variety of reasons. However, my local school district is already requiring it for youth who are part of school sports. As the vaccine is approved for younger and younger sets, this will expand. As soon as it moves from emergency use to full authorization, more people will also take it. Some have their doubts because they still believe it’s experimental. The final authorization will remove some doubts.

I went out today. Yes, my goal was to pick up the laundry and have a cup of coffee. The former was not ready, now I know that if they say Wednesday, they mean Thursday, but I still got my decaf. I sat at a table by myself, got out my new wireless keyboard and my headphones…and did something I have not really done for a year, except a couple of times last week. That was my regular routine. To go out for coffee, sometimes a restaurant, regularly. I am keeping this to just coffee, but not daily. Partly this is to support the coffee shop I have been a regular at since they opened, over twenty years ago. I am happy they survived the pandemic.

Now I can safely go, order a cup, sit down and write. This is my reward for getting my vaccine. I can start rejoining the world.

Still, this makes me nervous. I admit some of this makes no sense. With dropping infection rates, and me having my shot, this is the safest we call can be. I still carry a mask, if I am going to enter any establishment I wear it. It feels good to remove it while sitting outside. It feels good to walk the dog without it. But there is still that thing in the back of my head screaming danger, danger.

Some mask-wearing at this point, or throwing all caution to the wind, is performative in nature. Some is coming from that irrational fear, and our inability to do maths and assess risk. Many Republicans, due to the doubts seeded by Donald Trump, are still in the COVID is a hoax, will not get a shot club. Then there are those who were anti-vaxers, because of Doctor Andrew Wakefield and autism. The study where he claimed autism came with the MMR vaccine, was retracted by the Lancet over a decade ago. This does not matter. These two groups are going to be very resistant to getting their shot. Some of this is politics. If we get enough, the economy will take off, (it already is taking off) and that will disprove what the former president promised. This is depression.

For some liberals, over-caution is essential because of science. Never mind that science says that some of the things they are still afraid of, they should not be. Opening schools comes to mind. Why this is a battle in more liberal strongholds. They don’t want to open the schools, never mind teachers were prioritized for the vaccines. And yes, schools are opening. My nephews are both back in school. This is partly the fear of the pandemic that teachers were not forced to confront thought the last year. Or at least where schools remained closed.

Other essential workers were, (as well as teachers who taught in schools that were not closed), forced to confront their fears. So did their family, who sent them to work. We had our scare early in the year. I never celebrated a simple cold before, but that is what it was. So when we could finally get our vaccines, we did. My husband has gone to work throughout the pandemic,

I admit. We were a tad angry when his group of essential workers was not prioritized over teachers. Why? Many of the teachers continued to go on how this was not doable. To be honest, it was a very toxic attitude that does ignore what we currently know of the disease.

These were the same people who said that it was still unsafe to go back to school (out of fear) once they got their vaccines. Now they are back, and I think they should be happy that their fears did not come to pass. We are now at the point that those of us who were desperate for our shots got them, for the most part. Now it is time to reach those who fear the shot.

Some people who are vaccine-hesitant will never be reached.

There is something to be said about fears when it comes to minority communities though. Because medical experimentation involved a lot of minorities, fear in these communities is normal. The best-known example is the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. While this is far from the only medical experimentation, it makes sense why people are nervous. Do not assume that somebody who is vaccine-resistant is anti-science. There is a history. Why engaging trusted community leaders is critical. This is also one reason why the clinical studies had members of all communities. This includes doctors who volunteered because they knew this was important.

We need to reach a high level of vaccination in the community, and even then, some of us will still be nervous. However, it is time to start going out. It is time to start doing things that involve others. If you are vaccinated, give a hug to family or friends, who are also vaccinated. It is time, even if we all are still afraid.

We are going out for lunch in the coming weekend. Last weekend I went out for coffee with my sister. It will be nice, even if still makes me nervous. I plan to enjoy a meal out, that I did not cook.

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