I still wear a face mask.
I may be the only vaccinated person who wears one.
I don’t care.
This year, I enjoyed an unprecedented cold- and flu-free year. The first in my lifetime.
What else is gone? Hugs. I am not a hugger, probably something to do with my German heritage; but I feel uncomfortable with close physical contact; especially from casual acquaintances. Thanks to COVID 19, I have a ready excuse for refusing without offending huggers.
An Inconvenient Fact: Hugging releases Oxytocin (which makes us feel happy) and is considered by Mental Health professionals to be an important human connection. They also believe that those who reject hugging have issues.
Like many people, my immune system is more effective at attacking me than a virus. In the past, I suffered considerably from attending or hosting parties where an attendee was sick (“oh it’s just a little cold!”); presuming that I would either not be infected or that it would be mild (neither was true).
Tired of the continual infections and the autoimmune responses they triggered, I eventually left parties when a guest was sick, and asked infected invitees not to attend my parties. This was not well received, and I was judged harshly and criticized. Not anymore!
It feels so good not to be sick. The mask provides a socially acceptable way of reducing the risk of illness. Of course, we were lucky that COVID 19 was not airborne as many masks do not protect us from airborne viruses. Still, with my mask, I have a better chance of not getting sick!
This year, I have been able to avoid travel, which requires boarding my dogs, packing a pharmacy, staying in a hotel, flying, driving and all manner of labor intensive tasks. I can catch up with my friends and family via Zoom in the comfort of my own home with my furry companions close by.
My mask means that I no longer have to apologize for not wanting to get sick. I don’t have to apologize for not wanting to hug. I don’t have to apologize for not visiting.
So, for those of us who are susceptible to illness, do not enjoy close physical contact with virtual strangers, enjoy traffic free roads, and the comforts of our homes; this has been a welcome vacation.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.