Throughout the pandemic, we have observed a range of behaviors from people our age. I know a grandma just recently recovered from breast cancer who flies out west to visit loved ones and travels regularly with her significant other. Another couple who regularly entertain the unvaccinated grandkids and have taken multiple Road Scholar trips. An urban couple who have remained in virtual lockdown the entire time — no haircuts, Instacart and takeout only. She would chide us just for going to the grocery store, even though we always went at 6 a.m. and masked up.
This is the couple with whom we made plans to rent a home in the Finger Lakes this week. We all enthusiastically agreed to the trip in May when life was looking up, “normalcy” was creeping back, and I briefly appeared in the grocery store without a mask. We had been to the Finger Lakes before with this couple, and it was a mostly pleasant experience of eating, drinking wine and driving around.
But because I was observed in a Facebook group photo maskless, because Sue dared to celebrate her 75th birthday with family members, and because we entertained an “unvaccinated child” (also known as Sue’s great-granddaughter), we were shamed and bullied into abandoning the trip and losing the money we advanced. We were not willing to agree to an ultimatum to enter a “bubble,” mask up and/or eschew family gatherings and outings for 10 days before the trip.
Yes, we could’ve pushed back. But why bother? Even before the Facebook group photo incident, we already smelled Trouble on Keuka Lake. (For the sake of brevity and everyone’s Holy Crap Meters, I am omitting a lot.) We actually consulted with our former priest, now a friend, and she advised us to run, run, run away. It’s only money.
So we graciously explained that we understood their concerns, we were trying to balance our health with living an engaged life, enjoy the trip and keep our money. They never responded. But they were in the Finger Lakes this week.
Self-protection vs. living life
Watching others our age live (or not live) their lives has been very perplexing to us. Sue was two weeks fully vaccinated before we finally visited the great-grandkids in their home (heart-warming video here). The youngest had just been born when COVID upended everything. We still wear masks inside stores. We have not eaten inside a restaurant. I rehearse handbells with a fully vaccinated group of ringers all wearing masks. We are careful. But what is the line between engaged and extreme? We believe we mostly toe that line.
We become resentful sometimes. We admit it. So was it resentment on their part that prompted this extreme reaction to our determination to carefully but intentionally live our lives? Has the pandemic altered their mental state?
We know 20 months in relative isolation have altered ours. We are going to Disney World in February with Sue’s granddaughter and two of her children. For the first time in my life, I am terrified to fly. The airport, the lines, the delays, the fear of getting my teeth knocked out when I just spent so much money on them..
But it’s worth dealing with the fear to get the little ones to the Happiest Place on Earth. Which sure as hell isn’t the Finger Lakes.