I am NOT talking about writing today. I need a break from the rat race. From the publishing business. From the endless screaming into the void, and the emptiness it makes me feel inside.
So instead, I’m going to talk about frappuccinos friends and freedom.
Saturday was my Immunization Day (or Liberation Day, as one of my friends calls it) – two weeks after my second shot of the wondrous Pfizer elixir.
There’s a strange sense of relief, this weird realization that I *can* go places, can do things again that I haven’t been allowed to do for fourteen months. But there’s a residual fear too, laid over everything and reinforced by all the signs that things still aren’t normal.
To celebrate, Mark and I went out to a Starbucks for the first time in more than fourteen months. It was surreal. The barista counter was entirely surrounded by temporary plexiglass. There were signs everywhere – “table closed” “wait here” “don’t touch” – that made it feel more alienating than welcoming, and the stack of chairs and tables in one corner gave the whole place a sad yard sale feel.
I had my frappuccino and Mark had a mocha. We shared a lemon loaf and half of a smoked bacon and chicken sandwich, and we sat outside together.
For a few precious moments it was old times again, when we’d stop by a Peets or Starbucks for a quick bite to eat between Italian class and shopping, a little slice of normal. I was grateful for that time, and grateful that Mark was there to share it with me.
We followed our late lunch up with a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s, and then Sunday with a visit to Peets and our local grocery store. It was ok. But not like before.
It’s not normal. Nothing feels normal.
But it’s something – a taste of the freedom we have so long denied ourselves.
I find myself hesitant to believe it. It’s like staring at the door of a cage that has been locked for so long, and now miraculously is wide open, letting the fresh air from outside waft in. We edge up to the threshold to take a few sniffs, sure the door will once again slam closed.
But it doesn’t, and so we venture out into the bright sunlight, blinking and blinded.
I must be brave. It’s time to re-engage with the world, even if the process goes in fits and starts. There are other things besides a frappuccino that I have missed – lazy, relaxed evenings dining in a restaurant. Running to the store for that one thing we forgot to get last time. And feeling my friends’ and family’s arms around me, hugging and squeezing me tight.
So I breathe in, center myself, and push away the fear.
And I step out of the door and into the light.