Sunday, May 16, 2021

To Mask or Not to Mask (it is now up to you)

This past week the CDC decided that masking is no longer necessary both outdoors and indoors. At least for those who have been fully vaccinated against the Covid virus. Finally it  seems that there is a light at the end of the long tunnel...and maybe this time it isn’t a train heading straight for us on the same track. It actually sounded hopeful.

It was interesting to listen to the news and all the feedback from average Americans after the announcement was made. It has been well over a year ago  that we were asked to wear masks covering our mouth and nose. While there is much excitement about it, there also is a sense of leeriness at the same time. While all  those interviewed were hopeful, it seemed many were also expressing fear of shedding their masks. And I guess I am right along there with all of them.

I mean I’ve been covering my mouth and nose for over a year, everywhere I go. I’ve got my various fits and styles of masks all over the minivan, Jeep and the Best Half’s truck. And even extras in my purse in case I forget to bring one from the vehicle into the store with me. I have black ones, colorful ones, even red plaid ones like most everyone else around here. I have multi colored ones to fit whatever color sweatshirt I am wearing. I have my favorites and the ones I will force myself to wear if all the good ones are in the wash. We have a small tin container in the house next to the cell phones charging that is full of masks to grab when heading out.

Those simple face coverings have become a part of my identity over the past 15 months. And I have to believe this may be true for many others. While maybe you couldn’t see my entire face and expressions, the mask oftentimes could help you figure out a little bit more about my personality. For instance, red plaid-it’s me, typical Scandinavian Minnesotan don’t cha know. The black mask...stay clear and no one gets hurt. I am just getting stuff done and don’t want anything standing in my way, including a conversation about the weather. And since being fully vaccinated, I have resorted to the thin gaiters that serve no purpose for keeping germs from coming in or going out. But they have let me make the best of a situation, on when in a store, around my neck when not needed. And I never misplace them like the mask. And best of all, after the masking is over, they serve many useful purposes when kayaking and fishing.

I was lying in bed last night contemplating what it will be like not having to wear a mask and not having to social distance. While the social distancing probably won’t change much for most Minnesotans, because we like our distance, the unmasking I believe will have some impact on all of us. I think unmasking will happen slowly here in Minnesota. Kind of like after a long hard and cold winter, putting on a bathing suit. That feeling of kind of, sort of being exposed and naked to all those around looking at you. 

After 15 months of no one seeing your face in public, you will be seen. I have been working with new people the past year and right now if I met them without their mask on, I would not know them. I have never seen the lower part of their face. It has taught me to read body language way more than I ever knew I was capable. When the masks come off, we will see facial expressions, smiles, frowns, grimaces, anger. We will be able to read others emotions through their facial expressions. And for those hard of hearing or deaf people, we will be able to once again read lips and facial expressions and know without a doubt what is being communicated. For that reason alone I feel like my guard can be let down some once we are all unmasked.

But that being said, I also have a little anxiety that has set in. Yeah it is great we are getting out of this big pandemic mess we have been in, but how will we know if all the unmasked people are truly and fully vaccinated? I mean basically we are all going to be on the honor system. How has that worked in past experiences? I have to say I am not holding out much hope on that plan. People will do what they want to do at this point. But I guess it really isn’t of my concern any longer. I am protected, I won’t give another the virus and I have done what I think is the right thing to do as far as being a part of this world. And those that choose to be unmasked and unvaccinated will just be taking their chances, maybe little riskier chances than others, but as herd immunity kicks in maybe finally we can get back to a more normal way of living, except now we all have the experience of living through a pandemic. Here is hoping to never having to live through another.

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