Dis-a-POINT-ed. I’m Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda,” as we head into Year Two of pandemic life.
I can’t help it. Everywhere, we are bombarded with pleas and facts and advice and sound reasoning and science when it comes to taking good care of each other and yet so many ears are plugged. I got a little misty watching the Google ad during the NCAA men’s basketball finals. It was a series of Google searches typed out in the search engine’s familiar layout, starting from early in the pandemic — “quarantine,” “lockdown” — that progressed to sweatpants and virtual happy hour. In the minute-long ad, search words like “virtual” are removed and “temporarily closed” changes to “open.” The final search phrase is “covid vaccine near me,” and reading it, I experienced an upwelling of unexpected emotion. My feelings were multi-faceted. I love an ad that hits ya in the feels. That appreciation for good art (yes, excellent advertising is indeed art) and great message was layered in gratitude. I was in my second day of post-vaccination recovery; an achy, feverish, bedridden miserable 36 hours that while completely expected after the second shot, on Monday night still had my brain-fogged head spinning. And I was grateful for that shot. Grateful for the brief foray into being utterly, though temporarily, crushed. Grateful for modern science that has the know-how to come to the rescue in what has been the most profound health crisis of my lifetime. Grateful for local public health officials who have walked that razor’s edge of keeping the economy active and the public healthy and informed. Grateful for Dolly Parton. If you’ve missed that memo, she donated $1 million toward the research that resulted in the Moderna vaccine. The goddess from the holler.
But that sweet center of love and gratitude is wrapped in a sometimes thinly veiled layer of exasperation and disappointment that there are so many people who are refusing to do the right thing. I am dismayed to say that includes some members of my own family. My scientist father is shaking his head from his perch in the cosmos. At least the deniers will be spared his unbridled criticism, extra salty language, no charge.
I know I cannot dwell on that segment of our global population. I’m getting wiser at keeping my blood pressure down. I left Telluride Sweet Rants and Bitching for that very reason. Uninformed (racist-sexist-science deniers-Big Lie-consumers) nincompoops make my head explode. No bueno for my precious heart, which I aspire to have still beating at my century mark. Hey, a girl’s got goals.
Instead, I look ahead. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I can mask up, rebook my cancelled flight from last year and go see my people in the 75701-03. Mom and I can cohabitate safely, and Texas in April is divine for outdoor gatherings. Her milestone 90th bash was wisely postponed. Maybe we’ll toss a half birthday party for her.
Our festivals are working hand-in-hand as I write, brainstorming the logistics of hosting safe, outdoor and indoor events, protocols that will give us back one of our favorite things to experience — live music. So much of that depends on our collective behavior, and again, my skepticism that enough people will get vaccinated to stay ahead of the viral variations is mighty. If things take a turn, crush your hopes like a cigarette butt under a boot heel.
Fair weather means being outdoors. Sunshine and warm temps are a balm for the soul, and I’m already getting a little brown around the edges. In fact, this was an odd winter for me, in that I didn’t eat Vitamin D like candy all winter long, as I usually must do in order to stay above the waterline. I sailed pretty brightly, even through the darkest months. I guess social isolation suits me. I guess having the Dearly Beloved and a couple of cats for my sole companions were enough. I guess having birthday parties in my cul-de-sac in 20-something degree weather gives one fortitude or something like it.
There are many bright sides to the pandemic coin. I lost weight, I’ve stayed in reasonable shape (let’s forget the key lime pie episode), I returned to doing my radio show after a five-year hiatus, and working from home has been straight-up manna from heaven. My little neighborhood, already warm and friendly, is closer than ever, and the days keep getting longer and longer. Our vast record collection grew like we were feeding it and received hours upon hours of listening time. The only thing I didn’t get to was learning to play my bodhrán, but now that windows are open, this could be a good time. (Sorry neighbs.)
Mostly, it’s time, as the Google ad says, to get back to doing what we love, but that depends on all of us acting for the greater good. I have my doubts and have spoken to my disillusionment with a big heap of y’all, but hope is a silly thing. I actually encourage it as long as the lens of realism is handy. Please, people, vanquish my disappointment.