There is nothing “normal” about what is going on all around us these days. And in this time, you know it.
For starters I’ll mention Covid-19 and also the current breakdown of our representative democracy. l’ll leave the mention of a few other minor inconveniences for later.
These are thoughts on traveling in the Covid-19 world.
On a recent Saturday we were having dinner at a lakeside restaurant. It was warm, and still sunny. Saturday was going well. We had planned our visit to the lake, Lake Tahoe, even before the virus hit. Wouldn’t want to cancel now. We needed this trip.
Entry into the dockside hotel and it’s restaurant required that a mask be worn. We were fine with that.
Folks getting off their boats at the dock were masking up too. Everyone complied with it apparently. It’s the law.
But when people were seated in the outdoor restaurant dining area masks were allowed to come off. Except for those masks worn by the wait staff.
At the restaurant we were seated just lakeside from a party of some 30 adults. They mostly were wearing their sun dresses or sporty shirts and shorts and were mingling from table to table. Things were busy, social. They were most often than not tattooed up the arms and onto their shoulders and some were tattooed down their legs onto their flip-flopped feet.
We noticed this nearby vibrant energy as we were seated. We adjusted ourselves to our table. The view of the many fancy boats and the lake view was delightful. Our menus eventually came to us.
During our meal we noted again the large group. Two tables were being shared. The people there were passing one little blue blanket-wrapped package to each neighboring person in their party. Everyone got a turn holding, admiring and then passing the tiny bundle. It was passed all along and around the two long banquet style tables.
A little hand could be seen above the folded blanket that each person, each unmasked person, looked down into. Up close and personal.
I don’t know if the baby had its eyes open yet. It must have been just weeks old according to its hand size. The hand wasn’t yet an open hand. Finger movement comes with the months. Too soon for that.
This was a “new baby,” new to the world and its viruses. In the loving arms of its new friends and family. Before passing the package along each diner had their chance to view the cuteness they saw before them. And to announce to their fellows their pleasure at the precious site before them. It was being passed, in turn, the little swathed package. Passed from person to person.
Unmasked smiles were the style of the day. In between the oohs and ahhs and adoring shrieks of the supporters, happy hugging added to the merriment.
The restaurant wait staff served the meals while the exclamations rang out. Couldn’t we all celebrate such a happy event? The arrival of the next generation? The son or daughter of our happy friends? The beginning of a new life?
It all looked so normal and special to me and my family as we ate our meal at the neighboring table.
But we were off to a disturbing start on our Lake Tahoe trip.
We took a trip. We drove off into the new abnormality! Which is already all around us. And it was around us at our dinner meal. And it wasn’t our task to tell those around us that we and they were being unwise. So, it’s an unwise, dangerous and unhealthy world at The Lake. It’s unhealthy and poisonous
At first we saw a lovely sight. We saw nothing but joyousness that seemed appropriate to us as we marveled at the size of such a ”gift.” The gift was being passed along to marvelous shouts of celebration and cheers.
But looking and turning from our table, an unease very slowly crept into our feelings. What world is this? Our new world, at this time. Its different. And life, including new life, is at stake when faces and their mouths breath on each other. Into the the air of another person, new to the world or old to the world. It’s different now. We aren’t used to this.
How can we deny ourselves this sharing?
Can I expect to travel into the new normal going anywhere, lake or valley or even in our own backyard? My visions of the future in the days and years of Covid-19 to come are clouded in my vision. And I have seen abnormal behavior almost everywhere I’ve traveled up to now. And I haven’t traveled very far.
Inside my reasonably safe and healthy home we have our habits to fend off the virus. Things have gotten formulaic and slightly ordinary. Outside is, well, out of control. If my understanding of the killer viral agent Covid-19 is on point, even the most treasured behaviors of mankind must be trimmed and even abandoned. What we love to do has to be set aside. This year, probably next year and quite probably for a long time.
At the dinner table the unmasked friends of a new life were excused from protecting the baby which they came to hold. They could celebrate while any unseen virus might be shared amongst all of those friends at the gathering.
We can’t travel far enough. We can’t vacation and mindfully breathe easily in these times. Without ignoring the next table sometimes.