Good morning from sunny, warm Vermont. The more our governor “turns the spigot” to bring our economy up to speed, the more confused I become about masks, not particularly about wearing mine, but others not wearing them.
I don’t go out in public much. I go to work to a near empty building two mornings a week, I step out with my husband for a meal occasionally, and I go to stores maybe once every two or three weeks to pick up one specific thing. As time passes, I notice that more and more people are not wearing masks or staying six feet apart.
In his Monday, Wednesday, Friday press conferences, the governor and his health doctor tell us to continue to wear masks and to practice social distancing. They tell us this under an executive order and state of emergency. They tell us this is the best way to respect the health of others and keep the COVID numbers down. So I wear my mask and try my best to keep a cow’s length apart, thinking about people like Serena, who is so immune compromised that even the slightest brush with COVID would cause so many complications.
I’m told that wearing a mask in Vermont or staying six feet apart is not mandatory. I disagree. If the governor tells us to, then it’s not an option. He may not be enforcing it, but he still wants us to follow the protocol he is setting. He wants us to do our best to protect one another.
But even if I’m totally right here, it doesn’t reflect my experience. I am on my guard when I go out in public. I feel like I’m in fight or flight, trying to navigate away from the walking maskless, and people who crowd me. All the way around it’s uncomfortable. And I don’t understand it. Why wouldn’t Vermonters want to give people like Serena every chance at avoiding COVID?
Thus my confusion. I wear my mask so I don’t hurt others. It’s not about my freedom to express myself or proving that no one else can tell me what to do. It’s about caring for my community. It’s about being a good citizen.
The college students will return to campus in August, and there will be strict rules in place. I must set my own strict rules, keeping my office door closed for the first time ever, teaching my classes online instead of walking around the classroom, troubleshooting with students at their computers. My stomach dips just thinking of it.
Change. Challenge. Compassion. I don’t know where our future is headed. But right now, things don’t feel too good.
Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.