For whatever your thoughts are on masks, the pandemic, or what the “science” is vs. the dozens of conspiracy theories out there, something changed Friday. At midnight, the mask mandate in Virginia ended, and in less than two weeks, the mandates involving capacity restrictions and social distancing will be gone too.
In other words, the 14-month house arrest is over.
Surely, there will be those who disagree with this interpretation, but that’s how I see it. You will soon be able to walk into a store without wearing a mask (unless you want to), turn on a sporting event and see a full crowd in the stands, and go to a restaurant where you can clearly hear your servers because there’s nothing over their mouths.
My plan is to always have a mask in my pocket, and if someone were to say they felt uncomfortable in my presence because of that, I’d gladly put one on here in my Ashburn neighborhood. Whether I think it does any good or not doesn’t matter to me; if a person legitimately feels uncomfortable (vs. just looking for a fight) I think life’s too short. I would walk a person to their car after dark if they said they were uncomfortable, so why wouldn’t I put on a mask for a few minutes if someone said they had a similar feeling?
But I doubt that’s going to happen. In the 14 months this has been going on, I have always put one on inside a store, and immediately taken it off in the parking lot. I never wear one outside when walking, and the number of people to make a comment on my mask status has been zero. I doubt that’s going to change, as I try to treat people respectfully, so I doubt anyone’s going to be looking for conflict with a 6-4, 240-pound man minding his own business.
Right now, I am enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning, and have found myself mentally making a list of the Top 5 things I will now be making a priority. Some of this is indicative of me spending too much time on social media, where every 9th post is a “top 5” list of something, but nevertheless, he’s what I'm thinking:
No. 1: Go buy a brand new pair of walking shoes. For some reason when the pandemic started, I lost my desire to go outside and continue my routine of walking 4 days a week. Maybe it was worry about not wearing a mask outside, but the few times I’ve done it and encountered others in the neighborhood, one of us just crossed over to the other side of the street and we waved at each other, so it wasn’t a big deal.
I need to get back in that routine. New shoes should help prevent any injury, gives me a motivation to get out and use them, and now is prime walking season. A good pair of shoes should last at least 4 months if you walk every day, which takes me right up to when the leaves are turning, it’s getting cooler, and I’m complaining about football teams based in Ashburn and Blacksburg.
No. 2: Re-evaluate the music on my phone. To me, music is a vital part of exercise. It is like adding a soundtrack to your life while walking, and can be a gentle hand that pushes you up the hill when otherwise thinking I’m too tired to do it. I have a small amount of music from more current times, but being an old geezer, the vast majority is from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Since they're not making any more 70s, 80s and 90s music, I need to look for some old forgotten favorites to freshen my playlist. I’m always on the lookout for any great songs that work well with exercise, so maybe that’s the next “Top 5” kind of post to do.
No. 3: Use up gift cards. It sounds strange, but I’ve had a $100 gift card from Top Golf and an even bigger gift card from 1757 Golf here in Ashburn in my wallet for over two years. Had just decided in early 2020 I’d use both to practice during the winter and be ready for spring when the pandemic hit. Somebody gave me those to enjoy and have fun. I owe it to them to do just that, as this past year has shown, you never know when the time may come that you can’t enjoy them.
No. 4: Eat in a restaurant: After spending 30 years on the road eating in restaurants, I found for a while I preferred to have home-cooked meals, but these last 14 months have killed that. I’m a decent cook, but my wife and I have both discovered that after you roll through the cycle of 14 or 15 meals you’re good at cooking, you get bored with the same things. “I’m tired of eating my own cooking” is a phrase I’ve used a lot in 2021, and using Uber Eats helps some, but I still find I have to warm it up after it gets here.
So every week, whether I feel like it or not, we’re eating in a restaurant. Will be a nice change of pace for us, and restaurants – if they can find enough help to hire – could use the business. It has been sad seeing all the places we used to enjoy closing down in the last 14 months because they couldn’t survive the pandemic.
No. 5: Go see people in person. Being able to communicate via text, email, Zoom, etc. has been nice, but it’s not the same as looking someone in the eye, shaking their hand, giving them a hug, and hearing them laugh. No one has ever told a loved one in their final hours, "I wish I had texted you more."
Life is about human interaction. In person.
It’s time, the way I see it, to start living again.
Two comments. First, add a David Baldacci book to your playlist. He can really spin a story and an audiobook helps get me “out there” for an extended amount of time.
Second, something has gone haywire. I’m getting your posts in my inbox 7 times. I’m getting forgetful in my older years but reading once is sufficient. Enjoy your emails though.
Sorry about the emails. It has been an issue since we started and we are still working with the software author. Some days everyone gets one and we think it is fixed. Then I get a message like this and realize it isn't. We will work some more on it. Thank you for your patience...