This weekend, literally a day after reaching fully vaccinated status, my husband and I got on a plane for the first time since 2019. After two reschedulings and over a year of uncertainty, my friend Kelsey finally got to stand up in front of friends and family and declare her love to her husband, Peter – I was damned if I’d miss that.
It’s been a wild ride getting vaccinated in Washington state, but we’re thrilled to have finally made it across that particular finish line.
I say ‘that particular’ one because, as with so many things in life, the goalpost is ever-shifting. First it was about getting the first shot, then it was the long, anxious wait for the second, and then the two-week full immunity point. But the shift I didn’t see coming was what came after: re-entry into society.
If I’d had the option, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to do it all at once like this. I might have gone out to dinner a couple of times, indoors, and hugged a couple of vaccinated friends. Instead, we barreled straight through the whole process at once.
Exposure therapy is supposed to be slow, to go in stages. If you’re afraid of spiders, you might start by being in the same room as a dead spider in a box, then be closer, then hold the box…eventually you’ll be able to be in a room with a live (boxed) spider, and you’ll go on like that for a long time until you’re finally able to cope with the presence of a living spider on or very near your body. (Disclaimer: this is a layman’s terms example that I made up based on my understanding of exposure therapy. I am not a professional and I haven’t done exposure therapy myself so if I super screwed it up I apologize to all my psych friends.)
But we skipped right from ‘in the room with a dead spider in a box’ to ‘tarantula on our faces.’ The day after reaching full vaccination, we drove down to Seattle and parked, took a public shuttle to the airport, where we were surrounded by way too many people (where is everyone going?), then got on a plane so full they tried to pay people to take a later one. When we landed we braved more crowds at the rental car place, then checked into a hotel with god-knows how many guests, and headed out for dinner indoors with my fully vaccinated mother, whom we hugged. After dinner we went to Kelsey’s parents’ house for a party, where we and everyone else were unmasked.
And that was just the first day! Day two included more indoor dining, this time with my in-laws, plus the actual wedding itself, and then there was the flight home and doing all that over again (plus a detour to IKEA, which was blissfully empty and full of masks).
It. Was. Wild. I am exhausted, not just from the travel and the anxiety (not just Covid-related – see the writing section below) but from the sheer scale of newness the whole thing carried. I feel like I just got back from three days in G-force (again, not an expert; maybe using this wrong; sorry; hopefully you get my point).
Anyway, despite the exhaustion it was a lovely trip, and I’m tentatively excited to do it all over again next time…after I spend a few weeks in my house, recovering.
After the wave of publications in March, April was pretty quiet, but I’ve been trying to get back into a pitching rhythm and it’s going well! In an interesting moment of kismet, the first pitch to land in a while was about my pitching process (and one challenge in particular) – the resulting essay was published as a guest post on Nicole Dieker’s website last week. And in a surprisingly quick turnaround, just yesterday this essay about the changes my body has experienced during lockdown (and my anxiety about showing them to the world) was published on The Curiosity Club.
What I’m Reading:
I just finished Margaret Atwood’s follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments – it was reasonably good (how could Atwood ever write anything truly bad?) but I’m still not sure about the attempted humanizing/rehabilitation of Aunt Lydia… I gave it three stars on Goodreads, which I rarely do but Atwood’s reputation can handle it ;)
For my writerly book club this month, we read Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, which was fabulous, as expected. I’m also taking a virtual class with him right now and he’s just lovely and brilliant and insightful. Next up is Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, which I’m super excited about.
A Random Joy:
It’s not exactly random since it’s the subject of this whole newsletter, but attending Kelsey’s wedding, being in such a beautiful place in my old home state, and catching up with old friends and acquaintances was really a highlight of the month. As was seeing my mom, who drove an hour and a half each way to meet my husband and me for dinner – a meaningful gesture sandwiching a lovely catch-up.