Ah Covid, you rat bastard. Here we are, more than a year after you wormed your way into our lives, wreaking havoc and breaking hearts. You’ve done your worst, but it appears that science and common sense have you on the run. And how appropriate that much of the world is re-emerging and returning to some semblance of normal just as Spring has sprung.
I received my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine in early March. Three weeks to the hour later, I received my second dose. Frankly, I got a pneumonia vaccine last year that caused much more discomfort. Thankfully, my reaction to the Covid vaccine was minimal and predictable: Redness, soreness and swelling around the injection site. Fatigue. All in all, the experience was not unlike my brief, 1970s-era hetero marriage. (Pa-dum-bum.)
What I didn’t expect was the flood of emotions I experienced after getting the jabs. It was a mixture of joy, relief, gratitude, survivor guilt and hope. And anger.
Survivor guilt? Anger? You bet. Among the more than 500 thousand Americans lost was a friend — a sweet, sweet man who fought AIDS for more than 30 years, but couldn’t fight off this damn virus. Another friend, a woman who had less than a year earlier adopted a daughter with her partner. Gone, along with so many others. So yes. Survivor guilt and anger.
Newly immunized, I intend to still maintain recommended precautions of lots of hand-washing, masking up, social distancing, avoiding huge crowds and voting blue. I can’t wait to get out there and start living life again. And I love my home, but this lockdown business has frayed my very last nerve. Why is it that the surest way to get someone to want something is to tell them they can’t have it?
I’ve had a full year to make this list of the things I’ve missed the most:
–Sunday brunch at Baba Yega. Who could have imagined that salmon salad and mimosas would make for a delicious flavor palate?
–Sunday night beer bust and $1 hot dogs on the patio at Montrose Mining Company.
–Friday night happy hour at Chances, talking politics with The Usual Suspects, all of us agreeing that, without doubt, George W. Bush will go down in history as the U.S.’s worst president ever, for all time. Nope, surely it can’t get worse than W. Surely not.
–Smoking a joint with a stranger on Mary’s patio when Westheimer has finally cleared out after the Pride Parade.
–Going to a Houston Comets game at the Summit, and getting lost in the sea of undulating lesbians.
–Enjoying a late night/early morning breakfast at Charlie’s, and reaching for the ketchup without fear even though I had only moments earlier witnessed a drag queen at the next table deep-throating a bottle of Heinz.
–Spending the day on Stewart Beach in Galveston surrounded by gay people.
–And while I’m in Galveston, going to the drag show at the Kon Tiki. Then after the show, dance on the glowing penises embedded into the floor.
–Indulging in the General Tso’s Chicken lunch special with hot and sour soup at 3-6-9 Chinese Restaurant, wandering around Half-Price Books, picking up some goodies from Spec’s, and then going grocery shopping at Disco Kroger.
I know what you’re thinking: My god, how long has she been in isolation? Wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to do was get a couple of shots and slap on some PPE to once again be able to recapture these now non-existent favorite things?
Truth be told, I can get along just fine without all these places of the past. If I’ve learned anything from the year of Covid, I’ve learned the permanence of impermanence, and to appreciate what we have while we have it. Tell that friend you love them. Thank that store clerk for her bravery. Dance to whatever music your grocery store is playing, even if it’s not disco.
There are really only two things on my “can’t wait to do list”: Hugging. I am a hugger. Elbow bumps just don’t cut it for me and my kind.
It will also be nice to go back to simply annoyed with my fellow airline passenger squeezing into the middle seat, knowing with each of his exhales that he had eaten an abundance of raw onions and garlic prior to boarding. But at least I won’t be afraid his breath is so bad that exposure to it might actually kill me.
But mostly, hugging. Lots of hugging. So if I run into you on the street, get ready for a big, tight, inappropriately long hug. Maybe some crying, too.
Consider yourself warned.