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Unmasked Truths

This dark times we are in has shed light for me, personally. For starters, I’ve taken up drinking rye whiskey, a vice I’ve always associated with red-nosed alcoholics. But it helps. Only a shot and a half a night, two on a bad day. It may even be an undiscovered antibody. Who knows? So I drink and feel the burn on my throat and toast making it through another day COVID-19 free. I’ve also become a germ freak and taken up compulsive hand washing. I push the stoplight crossing button with my elbow. If I sneeze, I say Hail Marys for anyone within a hundred yards. I dread the sight of someone on the same side of the street as me from two blocks away. Please turn at the corner, please turn at the corner. If they don’t, I do. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me. I wear a mask on my trip to pick up two pounds of coffee to support the local business. I feel like I’m smothering, but I’m not ready to die yet, so I talk through it. I notice the proprietor doesn’t wear a mask, so I think about changing where I get my coffee. You’re becoming a nut job, I think to myself. My wife and I get together with another couple on their deck for socially distant pizza and beer and, after fretting over whether we should sanitize the pizza cutter after we each use it, I think to myself, socializing is too much damn work anymore. I work from home and often attend Zoom virtual meetings with my staff. For the first few weeks we use cameras, but by week four, everyone is using audio only. We’ve given up on our appearances and any semblance of professional attire. Yesterday I worked in shorts and a t-shirt. Can pajamas be far behind? I cancel my trips one at a time. Canada fishing in June comes first, then San Diego for a work conference in July. The hardest though, is the London and Scotland trip in September. It was to be our 30th anniversary trip, me and my wife. I may never get over that disappointment. Pledging to do more locally, I go cycling on the trail I’ve ridden for years Instead of getting inspired by all the new people using the trail, I get angry them for not knowing proper trail etiquette. Stay to the right! Keep in your lane! Rookies! It makes me hate who I am becoming. When businesses start to open up, I get resentful because I like having the authority to say no to anything without guilt. Sorry, it’s the whole pandemic thing, ya know? Pandemics are an introvert’s dream, but even I have days where I just need contact. I vow to push through these times. Get up, shower, work, walk, sleep, repeat ad nauseam. Groundhog’s day, every day. To me, there are now two days a week, not seven. They are, Day and Night. Coffee and Whiskey. Worry and Rest. Pandemic and Vaccine. Despair and Hope. I commit to masking the despair and embracing the hope.

By Jim Landwehr



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