“Where there is a will, there is a way.” This was what I was taught as a child, and the pandemic seems to have shown a light on that expression for many.
Our rules here in Vermont have allowed for small gatherings for quite a while now. But at the same time, it’s also become almost second nature for us to follow many rules.
We all have masks at the ready at all times—or on our faces nearly all day. We don’t greet each other with hugs; we nod and smile (even if the smile is hidden under the masks). We stand farther apart. Although we go into each others’ homes again around here sometimes anyway, most gatherings are planned to take advantage of open air.
Even with careful consideration of all the rules, recommendations and requirements, friends can still get together.
We proved that tonight by having less than ten guests join our family unit of five. That still brings us in well under the recommended limit of twenty five. We prepared some food together inside—with all the windows and doors open for fresh air flow. We cooked outside on the wood-fired pizza oven, and we ate outside under the pergola.
Oddly enough, none of this seems even that strange anymore. As one guest put it: “Welcome to 2020.” The conversation still flows. Our friendships remain strong. And at the conclusion of the evening, we still left happily satiated, both physically and emotionally.
However, there were a few friends who couldn’t come. Two had to work; two had conflicts. But one was feeling very rundown. On the very off chance she might somehow be infected, she chose to stay home (and we didn’t argue as we would have normally). Another was planning on coming in the morning—but by 1 PM, she found out she had to be tested for COVID-19, and was told to self-isolate.
I am tired of the pandemic tonight. I’m want to see people’s smiles again. I don’t want to use sanitizer every time I enter anywhere. I don’t want to wear a mask and feel like I can’t breathe all the time.
I want my daughter to go to high school five days a week, with soccer practice and soccer games just like they always have been. I want friends’ daughters to not be home right now; I want them to have gone off for freshman year, just like they planned. I don’t want to have to ask other friends if their children’s colleges are closed, or if they are on lockdown or even if they are having remote classes or a hybrid or actual in-person classes.
Of course, none of us expected it to go on for so long, or to have the impact it has. When I look around the table tonight, every single person here has a story of frustration and loss from this virus—personal, familial, financial. One has even lost both her mother and her step-father—plus the normal grieving process.
I am done with this idea of finding a “silver lining”, day after day. I don’t want to play my own game anymore. I just want it all to be done.
But, it’s not done. The numbers are still increasing around the world, even if our own little state of Vermont seems to be doing well. We must continue with this, and no one knows how much longer it will be. So it is with much reluctance I finally come to the conclusion of what today’s silver lining is for me: the forced recognition of how much we all need one another, and how important it is to do simple little things like come together for a meal and conversation.