On March 13, 2020, our family officially went into lockdown. We’d read the news of Coronavirus’ spread, heard about the first case in Utah, purchased some toilet paper and water, and been told that everyone in the world would be sitting tight for two weeks. I remember those two weeks-three weeks-four weeks; my …finger-wagging-type friends kept internet-shaming anyone they saw outside. They kept admonishing that, if everyone would simply pull together for those few weeks, we’d be back to normal within the month.
Months dragged by. Here, in my introverted world, I felt lost. Sure, I had texting. I had movies. I had my family. Plus, I had writing with my blogging community. The problem was that I had no desire to write. Did anyone else feel that way?
I felt reality knocking, peering, prying into my safe existence. A horrible plague might sneak through our door in the guise of a well-meaning relative or an Amazon package or a container of baby cereal. I had nightmares of said plague in every breath my three-month-old baby took. I pictured each of my children in a hospital bed, gasping for life inside a solid building I wouldn’t even be able to enter.
At first, I allayed my panic by handling what I could. I reached out to others via text or e-mail. We learned about Zoom. And, I loved reading my friends’ blog posts about conditions where they lived. It was morbidly fascinating to be experiencing the exact same, horrid thing everywhere. I shared what was happening in Utah as well.
I also took pictures. I still do. Someday, I’ll compile them; maybe I’ll print a book for my children. I’ve captured signs warning about masks and distancing. I’ve taken phone photos of plastic dividers; ‘samples’ at Costco; bulk goods now pre-bagged; and the absence of cleaning products, water, and toilet paper. What I wish I could photograph, above all, are all the people in masks. Masks at the store; in cars; at school. It’s alien.
Which leads me to current news. The Utah Department of Health says it has dosed 936,681 people with the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov’nuh Cox is pushing to extend our statewide mask mandate beyond the projected April 10 date, based mainly on his insistence that we get more people vaccinated. At the middle school where I work, we were told that masks would be required in schools till July 4. We may, however, be considering moving back to traditional delivery of school lunch -i.e., serving on plates and trays instead of handing out Styrofoam clamshells.
The numbers are dropping.
The verbal rain check I gave my oldest for his birthday party last year just might happen this time around. Maybe we’ll go on a vacation somewhere without cows. And maybe, just maybe, we can walk into a grocery store without a face covering -all of us- fully smile at a friend we see, and even hug them.
©2021 Chel Owens