COVID, Back Then and Soon

On the way to Charlotte, taking grandson Nathaniel back to school, we went to a church we’ve been to twice before. It is one we particularly like. It’s a beautiful gray stone church on a winding mountain road, and a rushing stream borders the property. Inside is even more attractive, because the people are very friendly and worshipful. They use the old standard liturgy and sing the chorales that guide your thoughts in deep channels. Like icing on a cake, the pastor chants the service easily and precisely.

John couldn’t tell from the web site if this church was even having a service on Sunday morning. No one responded to email or a phone call. What a surprise to pull into the parking lot and find it full! An unmasked man walked to the entrance and went in. We followed and found the church as full of people as it had been in past years. There were paper bulletins and hymn books in the pews, something we hadn’t seen for a year. Even more shocking, one man shook our hands to welcome us! We might have thought we were in a time warp, except there were a few older couples wearing masks.

We found out the aunt of the pastor’s wife died the day before, and they would be leaving to go to the funeral and on to Colorado where their grandchild was born a month early. No wonder no one responded to email and web messages!

What we saw at the church was almost pre-COVID behavior, where things looked much like they did a year ago. I wondered if that is what our church in Asheville will be like some months from now.

I know the governor of NC issued more relaxed COVID guidelines the previous Friday, but I hadn’t read them. After church we went to a tavern Nathaniel chose from his phone as we drove along. It was in a small town near Charlotte. Masks were the only thing that screamed COVID. People sat at the bar, and tables were not as far apart as they probably were before. We used plastic menus instead of paper ones. I didn’t feel like I was being followed by an army of workers wielding disinfectants while silently cursing me for breathing. This may be a preview of how restaurants will be in the months to come.

How lovely it will be when the freedoms of the past and those of the present feel similar!

26 thoughts on “COVID, Back Then and Soon

  1. Your experience reminds me of an episode from The Twilight Zone. Your writings are always poignant and interesting, and this particular account is somehow vivid and slightly surreal. Something about the smiling townspeople without masks, blithely and obliviously ignoring the virus restrictions that their governor has relaxed.

    We wear a mask when we answer the pizza delivery person. The waiters and all of the customers in the restaurant we still go to are all wearing masks. Customers wear them except when actively eating. Even the truckers wear masks at the gas station, delivery people, little stores. Of course I don’t go out much…notably excepting the giant vaccination clinic I wrote about recently…where everyone….everyone…was wearing masks.

    Ohio is still under a mandatory mask directive. I wish there was a reliable way to get a handle on just what is really going on in various states. It’s like we are living in Wonderland and everyone has gone mad.

    Yeah, I’m a drama queen….but why am I sulking and hiding here in my corner of the world, and other state residents are just blithely going on in their la-la lands?

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    1. Shoppers and waiters all wear masks here. We are free to go mask-less outside, though.

      I agree with you that it’s hard to know what is really going on around the country. We get a lot of conflicting statements from scientists and doctors. How do you know who to believe?

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      1. I know, Candace and I were discussing that very thing a while ago. She is at opposite points of view in most cases. She’s going to see our doctor tomorrow, it’ll be interesting to see what he says.

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          1. well, daughter has an edge on me when we discuss viruses and flu, etc. because she is a retired RN, almost MSN. So she wins most medical discussions by default. Another thing is that we can each ask the Doc a question, and the answer will be quite different, at least in interpretation.

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  2. I am really excited about things reopening and hoping it doesn’t set us all back. The warmer weather impending will help, I think. Give us time to have the vaccines kick in and allow people to get them. My day of super celebration is when coffee is once again available in hotel lobbies.

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  3. It’s interesting how the mask situation varies from state to state and even town to town. We went to OKC for an appointment on Friday, and pleasantly noticed that many people were no longer wearing masks. Some still were, of course, but there seemed to be more freedom in the masses. The gentleman we had the meeting with even shook hands – and we noticed the hanging plexiglass barriers had been removed since our last visit. It was apparent too, that people were quite respectful of maintaining distance everywhere we went – but they were not wearing masks. I have never been a fan of the masks, nor do I believe they have been effective. In fact, I tend to feel intuitively and instinctively that it’s more toxic to have them on for long periods of time than to risk the virus. But, I do comply when required to wear them. Mostly, I’m not inclined to do business where there are demands and rules. The governor of Oklahoma has not mandated wearing them, that’s been left up to individual communities to decide.

    What a lovely outing… and isn’t it wonderful to find such friendliness and welcoming in a “pre-covid” type setting? I think most people are ready to resume life in a trusting and confident way, rather than the fear-based shenanigans we’ve been seeing. I’m so happy to read about your outing! Gave me goosebumps to read how positive and surprising it was for you!

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    1. Wow! Some of your protective shields have been removed!!! I wouldn’t be surprised if they stay forever here.

      In NC we are required by the state to wear a mask in stores and places of business. We do it, but we whip them off as soon as we get outside. I agree with you that wearing a mask all day could be endangering our health. We have a daughter who is a cashier in a supermarket and a grandson who works at Burger King. My ears would have fallen off by now if I worked where they do!

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  4. What are the rates in the area where you visited and live? I would not be able to do that here until I have finished my course of vaccine and even then we are asked to continue to wear masks.

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    1. Both our home area and the place where we went have lower rates than the rest of the state. I can’t remember numbers, so I just remember trends. I think the state still requires masks in all stores, restaurants, and businesses. We comply, but we rip the masks off as soon as we get outside. Some of our stores still have one-way aisles, but some have removed the signs. John and I had our second shots last week. I can’t say we feel a whole lot freer, because we never felt as pressured as we would have in other states.

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      1. We still have very troubling rates in my town so the only change the vaccine will make for us is to have family and friends over after they have had shots. But that will be a big improvement.

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  5. Glad to hear you’ve had your shots Anne. People here in SA still wear masks when out and about, restaurants are open (not that I’ve been), social distancing is encouraged … but thankfully when walking on the beach no masks required. I feel for those in stores who have to wear them all day long …

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    1. I was totally surprised when the pastor shook hands with all four of us. John pointed out that the church we went to is only a few miles from the SC border. SC never had the restrictions we did in NC. A good number of people in church that day may live in SC.

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  6. How nice and welcoming – a hint of things to come maybe in 2021, 2022 for sure. Here in Michigan, they are letting people over 50 get the vaccine as of March 22nd. I am registered where I shop, but around the corner from me is the senior center where they’ve been giving shots to 65+-folks all this week. I like the hopeful deadline that everyone will be vaccinated by the end of May.

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          1. That’s good news. I am going to call next week and see if allergies are an underlying condition since I am 6 weeks away from turning 65. It’s worth a call. Monday they start people 50-65 with underlying conditions.

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