I wasn’t sure if I was ready to reveal myself. Being in disguise all this time, I blamed my late bloomer tendencies for not being one of the first to unveil, much like a bear that cautiously steps out of hibernation into his new surroundings.
But, I can honestly say all it took was a couple of hugs, dinner at a favorite restaurant and the opportunity to dance to win me back and I began to wonder if the past year and a half was all a dream. Once again, I could smile at strangers and watch their countenance change before my eyes. No longer would I have to suppress my hugging tendencies. I could shake your hand and not strain to hear your voice from six feet away.
Ever the enthusiast of the glass being half full, I began to wonder if my mask was revealing as much as it had concealed. It gave me a newfound respect for my sister and her profession as a nurse. Due to a limited supply of N95 masks, she initially had to travel forty minutes each way to have hers sterilized each morning. With so many unanswered questions about COVID, she undressed at the door each evening and left her work laptop outside. Meditation helped her get through those perilous days and has since become a part of her life.
JC* loved living with millennials in her chic downtown apartment, until they all started working from home, never to be seen in the daylight again. This was not a concept that she was familiar with and it took some explaining. We joked and told her had she been employed March 14, 2020, one day after the city shutdown, she probably would have been fired. Through it all, she remained her usual fun loving, upbeat self and I was so proud of her. Alone during quarantining, she worked on her paint by number art, knitted hats for charity, called friends, researched vacation locations and filled up her bucket list.
I perused my phone’s contact list, stopped to think about each person, and decided to reach out to them. Keeping in touch with my sister weekly on Zoom, the goal to make her laugh, brought her, JC and me even closer. FaceTime with family replaced visits and was never taken for granted. Considering time to be a gift, I had no excuse but to use it wisely.
Though I’m not exactly sure where we are now (mask or unmask?), I’ll make an effort to try not to take anything for granted again. If I do, I’ll take out my collection of face masks and marvel at how such a small piece of cloth could hide me behind it and change me so significantly.
*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.
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