Gosh, a lot has happened since I put up a substantial post — and yet, at the same time, very little has happened. I’m not going to try to catch us up, besides mentioning that at the end of July we thought Benji might have COVID. He spiked a fever four days after attending an outdoor birthday party for one of the kids in his “play pod,” or whatever you might call it. 

Happily, our doctor’s office got him tested promptly and we received results 36 hours later: Negative. Still, the doctor recommended we quarantine ourselves for the next 10 days just in case, since the test results aren’t real reliable. Which raises the question of why we bothered to get the test. 

Rightly or wrongly, it did set our minds at ease, at least. Before we got the results, I wore a mask all day around Benji, which he didn’t like. I quit worrying about that once he tested negative. Also, we didn’t actually quarantine strictly. We kept Benji away from other kids for 10 days, but Ian and I still went to the store, I went for bike rides, and we all perambulated each morning as usual.

That’s about the only excitement. Everything else is a lot and a little at the same time, much like everything else in COVID times: Little conflicts that feel big. Big problems that feel infinite. Days and weeks that feel the same and yet completely unfamiliar. 

Shades of Gray

Now when I watch movies, I feel uncomfortable watching scenes of people in crowds. All those maskless faces, breathing in the same space — something must be wrong. Even recent films feel like a snapshot of a time long past, some different society where we didn’t perceive every other person as a potential unintentional threat. I don’t like looking at every other person I pass on the sidewalk as a threat if they choose not to wear a mask, but I can’t help myself. Stop breathing near me. I don’t know where you’ve been, who you’ve spent time with, what you’re infected with and spreading to me.

Even once there’s a vaccine, it’s going to be challenging to overcome the incredibly strong anti-crowd mores I’m developing. When will I feel safe riding a bus on my commute? When will I feel comfortable working in an office every day? When will I stop judging people for walking past me outside without pulling up their masks? When will I ride my bike in a paceline or grab a faster wheel?

I’m not fighting our current situation. It’s life, and I accept it. No; what I want to know is how to resume some semblance of an in-person society after this. That time feels unimaginably far away, so I’m going to let future Katie worry about it. It’s too much for Present Katie to consider.

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