It’s been years since Al and I went to a wedding in the Before Times. This spring-summer-fall, we have four. The first was this past Sunday evening, the celebration of a young couple’s wedding that actually took place two years ago. After several postponements due to Covid, they had a reaffirmation of vows and a big bash at a country club, about an hour’s drive from our home.
The weather was hot, in the 90s, as thunderheads slowly filled the horizon. Despite one threatening rumble, however, the storm passed us by, the couple had a lovely outdoor ceremony and a romantic photo shoot, and we all moved on to the party indoors in a cavernous event space.
Now, Al and I had our K95 masks for the indoor bash, but the vast majority of guests went without. A few other older adults wore masks, so we didn’t feel completely alone, and even a couple of younger guests did, too. No one made any snide comments, thank goodness. Still, it was a bit awkward to be among the very few covering our noses and mouths, even as I was aware that the crowd included medical professionals and others who believed in vaccines.
At the same time, there was no way I was going to chance it maskless. We’re still in a pandemic, even if almost everyone wants to forget about it. I cannot take any undue risks, given my scleroderma, and neither can Al. Fortunately, we were seated at the back row of tables, and the only other couple at our table wore masks, as well. The rest of the place settings remained empty because, we later learned, those people had cancelled last minute due to medical risks and worries about the Omicron surge. The other couple never removed their masks, avoided the meal, and stayed only part-way through the party.
So we ended up with the best possible setting, by ourselves at a large round table, well distanced from others, while we ate. We danced a little, wearing masks, staying at the edge of the dance floor. And we left after dessert. We both enjoyed ourselves and were very glad that we could celebrate with the happy couple, family, and friends.
I’m hoping that we made the right decisions and have avoided exposure to the virus. So far, a day later, I feel fine, and so does Al. I don’t know when we’ll ever get back to “normal,” whatever that means now. I’m not ready to eat indoors at a restaurant, where we have no idea if others are even vaccinated and the space is more confined (with one exception back in April that worked out okay). I’m starting to plan some travel this summer that requires flights. I’m investigating travel insurance that covers sickness from Covid.
While the introvert in me has managed quite well, thank you, with limiting in-person socializing since March 2020, I now need to get out and about again—beyond just trips to the doctor, small family gatherings, short errands, or our synagogue, where I help to set our Covid policies and we have strict vaccination and masking rules in place that have proven prudent. We’ve enjoyed some lovely, albeit limited, long weekend getaways, and my two writing retreats over the past two years have been godsends. But my world now just feels too small.
So, it’s time to venture forth. It’s time to not be cowed by what-ifs, while taking appropriate safety measures, regardless of what others are doing. Much as I hate wearing my mask, I will continue to do so when in crowds or other Covid-risky situations, both inside and out, as I go.
Image: Marc A. Sporys