Friday, June 19, 2020

A Different Kind of Purgatory

Peonies in Purgatory
So it's been a few weeks since my part of Pennsylvania went Green, and I've got to say, it feels like going to an amusement park that you used to visit when you were a kid, and you remember it as being really, really fun, but now there's a little grass starting to poke up through the pavement, and the paint is chipping on the fanciful mid-century fiberglass decorations, and the mascots' costumes are grubby and threadbare, and half the rides are broken down.  And the gift-shop has the feel more of a museum than a place where you choose and pay for souvenirs.

It's familiar, and yet, you kind of wish you hadn't even come at all, because it ain't the same, and you're left feeling some type of way about it.

That's how Green feels, or as I can't stop myself from thinking of it: Post-Pandemic-Purgatory Purgatory.  A different kind of Purgatory.  A Purgatory that's maybe a little bit harder on the soul than Pandemic Purgatory was.

Here we are, almost two-thirds of the way through June now, and it just doesn't feel like summertime.  The temperatures have caught up, finally.  There's a win.  The weather has been quite decent.  But there isn't a whole lot to do.  The aforementioned amusement parks, when they open, will be quite a different experience.  We're still doing the mask thing, and I'm not going to lie.  A trip to Sams Club a couple warm weekends ago proved oppressive with a mask on.  I hoof it around a store, and it was a little bit warm in the store, as well as outside, and I did feel for people who have been saying all along that they can't breathe in masks.  It takes getting used to, and I could do it easily working in the air conditioning at the dentist's office, sitting chairside handing instruments to the doctor.  Pushing a loaded cart around a warehouse store whilst wearing a mask does add a new dimension of misery to the whole process.  

And speaking of masks, there's this whole politic that has oozed in surrounding masks.  You get your people who give you the meanest stink-eye if they're wearing a mask and you're not.  Then you have your people who refuse to wear masks anywhere, under any conditions who look at you like you're a stupid sheeple for wearing a mask.  There's still another set of people who technically wear a mask, but it's just pulled up over their mouth, leaving their nose exposed and THIS DOESN'T DO ANY GOOD AT ALL!!!

We've been to our first sit-down restaurant experience since we went Green.  I was both thankful for being able to sit down in a restaurant and eat, but I was also just put off by the whole thing where you couldn't sit on the benches outside to wait for your table.  They're running at half-capacity, distancing diners.  The servers wear masks.  Disposable menus.  Everybody was going out of their way to make it feel less weird.  Other diners (those who are Of A Certain Age and are the same ones who'll give you stinkeye for not wearing a mask) were giving the servers and hosts and anyone who'd listen hassle about all of it- not being able to sit on the benches outside to wait to be escorted into the restaurant, and then that the menu's limited right now.  And then it took too long for their food to reach them. 

Meanwhile, the restaurant staff had an air about them that they hate all of this too, and that it's total bullshit, but they're just doing what they have to do to be allowed to be open, and isn't it a victory to even be open right now, even if it isn't quite as convenient or fun?  And restaurant brothers and sisters, I can't speak for all of healthcare, but your dental compatriots feel your frustration, too.  

This is Post-Pandemic-Purgatory Purgatory.  We want to be out and about, we want everybody else to protect us, but we want to bitch-bitch-bitch about it if those measures affect us in any way, shape, or form.  

And while Summer hasn't been cancelled, per se, all the things we might look forward to about summer have been.  County fairs, rallies, festivals, fireworks (although every dog everywhere gave a big awoooo! in celebration of that one!), conventions, shows...  Amusement parks are going to be all weird this year.  Malls might open, but it looks like all the stores inside them could have fallen victim to COVID.  

When we've been out and about, trying to piece our lives back together after All of This, I feel shabby for being so ungrateful.  But it doesn't feel at all like summertime.  There is no air of celebration in the air. I can't even scrape together enough heart to look forward to Fall with a bit of anticipation.  We got my daughter's Third Grade Backpack from Justice (the dot-com - I had a coupon!) as we usually do this time of year.  To be prepared.  But I don't feel that little spark of elation at the thought of a Brand New School Year.  I had that last year, and it bit us.  School shut down early.  I just keep wondering when the second shoe falls.  Just when we get good and settled into a schoolyear routine, and get all happy about being back, and feeling like we really have our stuff together?  Like around Halloween, say?  Another two-or-three or more-week shutdown?

This is Post-Pandemic-Purgatory Purgatory.  

And I have to ask myself: What did we learn, any of us, from the Springtime Shutdown?  Was there anything?  I have all kinds of thoughts on that one.  And I don't think I'd oughtta give them voice right now.  It's too soon.  But I will say that if you're thinking about reading or re-reading 1984 right now, either do, because you will recognize a lot in there right now, and it will add another layer of urgency and menace to an already menacing book.  Or don't, because you'll recognize a lot in there right now, and it will add just too much menace to a menacing story in menacing times.  Might not be able to get to sleep at night.  

I hate not being grateful for Green.  Back in March, at the beginning of the shut-down, I would have given my eyeteeth for Green right then.  Far more fell victim to COVID and the shut-down and the fallout than health.  I hate being so pessimistic about it, but The Great Pause does not appear to have been the Great Reset the more optimistic of us hoped it would be at the time.  I think it's brought out the worst in us so far, if you're asking what I think.  And I don't know what to do about that.  

Hunker down and wait it out from behind a mask, I guess.

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