Tomorrow California’s economy reopens. What does it mean to reopen ourselves?
Remember where we were:
March 22, 2020. I’m online, a Zoom meditation, and I’m cheating. I need to get all those thoughts I cannot quiet written down. What are we eating this week, while we wait for our grocery delivery that probably won’t come until Thursday, or maybe Friday? Can I stretch it to last? There’s the chicken in the freezer, that can be soup, then chicken tacos, then maybe some stir fry. There are frozen hamburgers, dated July 2019, but I am willing to defrost those, have started to defrost, just in case. There are cans of crushed tomatoes, which maybe could hide that hamburger into chili. Or become masala, with the spice I found at the back of the pantry, used once, I do not remember when. There are crushed pineapples – why? I have never bought that before. NE-VER. But I threw them in my basket on my mad dash through the market, trying to shop as fast as possible, dodging the invisible errant vectors of virus that could be floating in the air (no one knows for sure). It was the opposite of my usual lingering over labels, the opposite of Me.
To read that is to understand what reopening means these fifteen months later, my family fully vaccinated.
Reopening means summer. It means that half the time I leave the house, I forget to bring a mask. (I regard this as a positive mental health development.)
Reopening means I can barge into my parents’ house, my face naked of cloth, and call out, “Anybody home?” without me or them fearing that I am a transmitter of death. It means me asking “Want to go for a walk?” and them answering “Let me get my shoes,” all of us forgetting that I could not do this a few months ago.
Reopening means a stroll along the bluffs carries greater concern about tripping than contracting a virus. It means fewer people are setting up chairs here, now that the beaches below are opened. It means looking down and seeing the beach is full today, clusters of colorful umbrellas, coolers, towels — a civic party. Reopening means I am tired from the two birthday parties I attended this weekend, and that I may need to retreat for some quiet. Reopening means adjusting.
There are still questions — are we really safe? Did we make it? What will come next? “Are those sailboats?” my dad asks, as if they have been gone for years, their casual presence confirming that life has returned.