Our county is in the early phase of reopening and I now have an appointment with my hair stylist for the 25th. I’m glad it’s several days out, that gives the salon time to get their new safety processes figured out a bit, and gives me time to decide as the date approaches if the reward still feels worth the risk. Right now I’m feeling like I would stand near an active volcano in order to have my roots fixed, and I hope you take that in the spirit it is intended: with hyperbole but also sincerity, and the acknowledgement that my stylist seems VERY excited to get back to work so hopefully this isn’t me putting essential workers in unnecessary danger for my own vain pursuits?

I guess fundamentally this is about being mutually willing to enter into a situation of accepted risk but is it really willingness when my stylist needs to get back to the work she loves to do but also has to do because it is her livelihood? I assume there will be lots of protective measures in place but it still feels complicated, like the times when I confess I have run to the store for something that wasn’t super necessary and wondered while waiting in the checkout line if my desire for chocolate chips (not even for a recipe, but to be consumed directly from the bag later) was worth exposing the grocery clerk to my masked but germy meatbag self.

I do worry about someone in my family getting sick, it’s impossible not to read about the youngish healthy people this virus has taken down — and that upsetting new inflammatory syndrome linked with COVID-19 and children — and not feel fear, despite the statistics. I worry more about unwittingly spreading the disease to someone else, though: it’s awful to think of potentially deadly consequences I could bring about by my own actions.

John and I go back and forth on this. His opinion, generally, is that the virus is out there, inevitable in many ways, and that we all individually have to decide what we’re willing to deal with exposure-wise, and that those who are high risk need to take the strongest isolation measures and the rest of us need to get on with our lives.

I agree that this largely comes down to “Are you willing to go back into the world in some way or are you going to huddle inside until there’s a vaccine?” but I also believe we all have responsibilities to try and keep each other safe as best we can, which of course is a hugely subjective goal and there are multiple unsafe outcomes we’re all trying to avoid: disease, economic ruin, psychological damage.

I’m so sick of the phrase “in these uncertain times” but that is certainly the defining aspect of this whole slow-motion disaster: UNCERTAINTY. In the very best of times I am rarely certain about my choices and now that actual life or death is on the table I feel extremely unqualified to navigate what’s next.


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One of the letters to the editor in our local paper yesterday included a very detailed set of suggested instructions for how businesses should re-open, down to the number of people who should be allowed in a beauty salon at any given time (2), how many people should be allowed in the gym and for how long (10, for one hour), and how diners should be separated in restaurants (with roped-off tables and at least 2 barstools’ worth of distance at the bar).

I have to say, I’m envious of the people who feel that kind of certainty right now. I am the exact opposite of this letter-writer: I have absolutely no idea how everything should proceed and I feel totally dependent on people who are smarter than me to figure it out, which of course is difficult because not everyone can be trusted to truly have our best interests at heart and not everyone is in agreement on what our best interests actually are.

It’s becoming clear that we will all have to find our own way through this mess, there will be regulations and guidelines but ultimately it’s going to come down to our individual situations and perspectives and decisions, right? Which: UGH. Oh, I know, how inadequate is it to type a Cathy cartoon groan but just UGH UGH UGH. That’s all I’ve got: ugh.

John is gone on a rafting trip and while I do not share his fortitude for being on the river and camping in spring’s capricious weather — rafting in the rain seems grim as hell— I’m deeply jealous of his opportunity to be completely unplugged from the news and digital distractions for a few days.

We had been on a family hiking kick which I think we’ll pick back up when John’s back: a daily trek up a steep hill has been a weirdly fun ritual. Sometimes we try and beat our fastest time, sometimes we just have the goal of getting there. It’s a chance to be grateful for working lungs and the open sky. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like but I’m so grateful for my little crew, and I guess I’ll just keep ughing my way along and hope for better days ahead.

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