As of this writing, the USA is mostly open. Sports facilities and restaurants are at full capacity again and Broadway is reopening. More than 50% of the population over 12 is vaccinated and despite the contagion of the Delta variant, hospitalizations are low.
It felt like this happened quickly. After months of lockdown, we had a few weeks of limited openings and then BOOM! All open for business. Once the vaccine became readily available, and people had their shots, people, including me, felt more at ease in public venues. So, it was time for me to return to normal.
My first party post lockdown was with my writing group, The Legacy Writers. We are all over 50 and once our last member was two weeks past his second shot, we gathered. Oh, the hugging and laughing and back patting!
We had met weekly on Zoom throughout lockdown but were oh-so-happy to be in one another’s physical presence. We have decided to continue to do most of our meetings on Zoom as we all realized how much easier it is.
There is no drive time and no need to get dressed up. But nothing replaces face-to-face so at least once a month we will gather at one of our homes. We got more writing done during the pandemic and have vowed to keep our productivity level high.
My first theater experience was the philharmonic orchestra playing the music of Queen. The young man playing Freddie Mercury was a Broadway actor doing his first live performance since the lockdown. He was on fire!
He encouraged the group to get up and dance and we did! Because of the limited audience capacity, there was plenty of room to wave your arms and do a bit of jumping and shimmying. The JOY in the room was palpable.
My first sporting event during the limited opening was a minor league baseball game. The stadium had just reopened at 30 percent capacity. There was at least one row and half a dozen seats between ticket holders. There were no walking vendors, passing hot dogs or beers hand-over-hand to fans.
If you wanted food or drink you had to go to a stand and follow social distancing there. But it was baseball, and I could still hear the crack of the bat and sing during the 7th inning stretch. Masks were not required as it was an outdoor event. And I was able to dine prior to the game on an outdoor patio at a restaurant near the ballpark. The whole evening was a heady experience!
The next step was doing more in-person shopping. At the height of the lockdown, groceries were either delivered or ready for me at a drive through pick up. Gradually, I started to shop in person, aiming for less crowded times and being very purposeful about following my list.
Then I began to shop in a more leisurely fashion, not worrying about being close to fellow masked shoppers or the time of day. I have vowed to stay purposeful about this. To limit the number of trips by having a list and sticking to it, avoiding those runs for just one thing!
I was accustomed to wearing a mask, social distancing, and zoom gatherings. I was accustomed to being vigilant about hand washing and limiting my exposure to others. I returned to sporting events and indoor dining.
But, as a person with wanderlust, I most missed travel. International travel is still extremely limited. But after the full opening, I decided it was time for at least an in-country adventure.
I took my first trip, to Mackinac Island in Michigan. You arrive by private plane or ferry. This island allows no cars or motor vehicles, including golf carts. The two exceptions are the ambulance and the fire truck. Everything else is done by horse drawn wagons, bicycles, or on foot.
Most people walk or bicycle where they need to go. Masks are still required on the ferry and dock as well as in the airport. On the island, every business had sign on their door stating if you were not vaccinated, please wear a mask. The island was busy, with all hotel rooms rented. I would estimate that between 20 and 30 per cent of folks were masked.
So, while not completely normal, it was a huge step in the right direction. People were in a good mood. It was the Lilac Festival and the air was fragrant and the streets filled with color from the multitude of Lilac bushes. There was even an outdoor concert and plenty of other live music. Again, close to normal.
I am filling my 2021 date book with parties and in-person classes and retreats. I have a long list of USA destinations to explore. 2022 plans include a trip to Bali in the spring and Italy in the fall. What’s different is the volume of things I have planned.
I realized I enjoyed the time at home alone. I learned the bliss associated with not hurrying, not packing every moment to the gills with activity. I am enjoying lazy afternoons with nothing to do but dive into a good book. I am savoring long walks with my dogs. I like looking at my date book and seeing huge gaps. I even nap sometimes! No more over planning for me.
So, I am returning to normal but a kinder, gentler version. One that allows for more time between and more time for reflection, one more conscious about how my time is allotted. I am better about saying “no” to things that don’t feed my soul and therefore having time for a “Hell yes!” to the things that do. I am more purposeful. I feel more ease.
How about you? How are you returning to normal? What are you keeping and what are you letting go? Let’s have a heartfelt discussion!