Mask Musings

Sitting on an empty patio by the lake. Image Credit: LFSMusings

Yes, I recognize this entire situation is complicated. Yes, I realize people need to work to live. Vacations and parties are not excusable in my book.

It’s been four months of quarantining, social distancing, and wearing a mask. And yet when I go on social media, my feeds are flooded with acquaintances traveling, visiting friends and family, living their normal lives sans mask and sans social distancing.

My anger at this began due to my career in science. The numbers were right in front of us. The very simple experiments showing the efficacy of masks were posted everywhere. I saw people with medical issues that make wearing masks very challenging still wearing a mask because they understood their part in society. I couldn’t understand the other selfish behavior I was seeing. My anger grew when I saw other places successfully flatten the curve and return to their new normal while numbers around me skyrocketed.

I scroll and see a post of a girls’ trip to the beach right above a post of someone asking for prayers because they must virtually say goodbye to their dying family member. I see weddings occurring as planned right next to articles of convention centers and dorms being opened up to house patients that the hospitals can’t accommodate. I see relatives calling their family members sheep for believing in this “hoax”… selfish for not visiting during this time.

I think about my own family. How we could not be together and support one of our own who has endured a loss no one should ever be forced to live through. I think about how two visits to see my parents have been cancelled and we have no clue when it will be safe to see each other again. I think of my partner, an educator who (as of now) will be required to teach in-person classes in August.

There are times when I want to say screw it and pack up my things and drive home. 100% of the time, I wish this wasn’t the situation we are in. I would love to eat a meal at a restaurant again. I would jump for joy if I could sit in a coffee shop and write for an entire day. Perhaps if everyone was doing their part, these things would be possible. Instead, I dodge people who walk close to me and I hold my breath walking by people without masks.

I’ve reached the point of cynicism when I think of what the people around me are doing. I’ve stopped reaching out to many after I saw a general lack of understanding that we must all do our part to flatten the curve. I’ve stopped being surprised when I see people sharing articles about staying safe while also going on lunch dates.

I spend sessions with my therapist questioning if I am a terrible person for thinking that some people will not change until COVID-19 affects them personally.

Yea, it’s lonely. I only see my partner that I live with and a single co-worker. I have an entire room of the lab to myself. Most of my other human interactions lasts for a maximum two minutes while I pick up a to-go order. It’ll be lonely for much longer if people keep thinking the rules don’t apply to them.

Quarantining and working from home wasn’t an extension of spring break or an early start to summer. It wasn’t a gift of freedom that lets you take advantage of cheap flights and go on the vacation you always dreamed of. I don’t know what else it will take for people to wake up. I don’t know if they already have and are taking the YOLO Approach. In my opinion, when YOLO affects other people’s health lives, that’s not okay.

So, I will continue wearing a mask when I go out. I keep getting my food to-go. I refuse to sit on a patio unless I see social distancing and masks. I won’t be making any travel plans. I’ll wait and see just how long it takes people to wake up to what’s happening.

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