We are easing into the world, antibodies bopping around our bodies like nanobots, invisible yet helpful.
If my body is average (and it has always seemed so) and if the scientific studies were robust (and they appear to be) I am enjoying a sharply reduced likelihood of infection now, with peak effectiveness right around the corner. Huzzah for research!
Still, my indulgences are minor:
- Less apprehension when slipping through a busy sidewalk.
- Sharing an elevator with a neighbor.
- My first workout at our building’s gym since this whole mess started.
It felt strange stepping into the gym after 13 months. Familiar yet foreign. Me, on the bike. An elderly neighbor on the treadmill across the room. Both of us breathing behind our masks. I looked out the window. Somehow I’d forgotten that you can see Elliott Bay from our gym. A peekaboo view around the tower next door. The things that I’ve missed are eclipsed in number by everything I’ve lost track of. My mind has been absorbed with waiting and worrying. I forgot that I can see the water from the gym! That’s a tiny thing, but it makes me eager for more discoveries.
I’m off work today. And I’m hungry for new sights and sounds, for novelty, for the once-ordinary experiences of eavesdropping on conversation on a bus, or browsing a shop, or even seeing people’s faces! But I have to be patient.
Our local baristas are exhausted. Everyone wants to make small talk, one of them groaned. Seattleites are not usually chatty with strangers. But we’ve been pent up for too long and we’re ready to blow. HOW ARE YOU DOING!!!!
Baristas eye us all like they’re tempted to give us decaf. The ultimate punishment. We tone it down. Nod with deep empathy as they explain they had 25 people in line that morning and the owner can’t afford more staff yet. We keep our coffee orders concise and enunciate clearly. We tip. Never fuck with the supplier of your drug of choice.
It’s been a long, long year, baristas. We understand.
It’s cool and gray outside, and I think I’ll take a walk down to Beechers at the market and buy some hot tomato soup if the line isn’t too long. I’ll pass the tourists taking selfies at the fake-first-Starbucks. Dozens of shops have closed! No more Bavarian Meats. The Pear Grocery lives on in memory. Adiós Ralphs! Yet I see every empty storefront as fertile ground waiting to be planted.
Seattle exists in my heart as layers of what was and what might be. You remember was was there, on that corner, years ago. You see what’s in front of your eyes, right now. And I can almost see what’s waiting, ready to shove its way in. The city is always impatient, ready for the churn, eager for new opportunities.
Me too! But for the moment, I’ll settle for soup.