My parents got vaccinated yesterday. All three of them. They’re all over 65, and had been trying to get an appointment somewhere for days. Here, in my state, the various county health departments and large urban health care entities seem to have no functional system for handling the people that want a shot. There are theoretical appointment times, a theoretical waitlist for a phone call in which you might get an appointment time. But mostly you just sit around and refresh a webpage moment after moment, day after day. Or some friend or relative who gets an appointment calls and tells you they’ve opened up vaccines—“ACT FAST!”– in some distant rural county, where they have a sudden glut of vaccines. Then your parents get in a car and drive 30+ miles away, and you hope they won’t have an anaphylactic reaction in a parking lot behind whatever church/closed elementary school/dead mall that is currently standing in for a vaccination site.
My mother and stepfather went to Lake Lure, a small resort community a couple counties over built around the eponymous water feature. It’s a weird place to go for a vaccine because Lake Lure is a weird place to go for anything that doesn’t involve a boozy lake house weekend and maybe some Swayze-based nostalgia (“Dirty Dancing” was, in part, filmed there). They’d been tipped off about the Lake Lure vaccines by my Dad, who had been tipped off by my Aunt Molly, who’d been tipped off by who knows what friend of hers.
Vaccine info is the new Hot Gossip among Boomers, at least among the pro-Science, anti-Q-Anon variety of Boomers. As always I feel grateful that my folks are reasonably sane on that front. It’s nice to not have to convince my loved ones that Covid is real or that Joe Biden isn’t selling nice white Christian children on the black market to Hilary Clinton and her cannibal lizard cronies. About the worst I generally have to deal with is trying to explain the concept of tone policing in protest movements and why, when you give the homeless man in the supermarket parking lot a ride to the shelter (great!), you should probably open the windows, offer him a mask and certainly wear one yourself. My people are good people and I love them, but the truth is I’d still be relieved that they’d been vaccinated regardless.
Mom called afterwards to report that she felt fine and that she cried after she got the shot I called Dad later (with a glass of wine) and he gave a similar assessment, sans tears.
“Can’t wait for you to get vaxxed too,” he said.
“I’m thinking, if I’m really, really lucky, that will be somewhere between August and October 2021,” said I, a healthy forty-five year old woman with no preexistings and a job I can work from home.
“Bud, I think it could be April,” he said.
And I laughed and thought that was exactly the kind of whimsical optimism that makes me love my parents. I didn’t mention that a friend of mine had said, on Sunday, that she thought it would be well into 2022 before the likes of either of us got a shot.
Still, I spend a lot of time these days looking at hotel websites at places in other countries I am technically not allowed to travel to right now. I pick out rooms. I plan vacations. I wonder who I would invite to come along. I sometimes poke around shopping for travel outfits. After all, I’ve never been a person particularly comfortable hanging out in pajamas (honestly, most of my pajamas are not that comfortable) anyway. One critical component to my mental health has been getting up, getting a shower, getting dressed, even if dressed is just clean gym clothes and lip balm. I also tend to put on shoes around the house, which I’m aware will horrify at least half of you, but I like the thought that I’m ready to go at a moment, should be needed, even if the odds are I will not (I also kind of like my shoes and my clothes and can anthropomorphize anything. So I’m always operating with a touch of “Leopard heels! Satin shell with the giant bow: I promise I haven’t forgotten you! You are all loved! And honestly, people are weird about secondhand goods during Covid and I can’t begin to figure out the donation hours at the PTA thrift store right now, so I couldn’t even give you away right now if I wanted to!).
Yesterday, while I was talking to dad, thinking about the potential for vaccination (far flung as it may be), dreaming about travel, I was wearing a polka dot dress I’d bought years back for trip to Ireland. I thought it was purple when I ordered it, and that it would be appropriate for a Wilde statue pilgrimage in Dublin. As it happened, the dress was navy and Oscar lounged permanently in the square across from our hotel, so we ended up there just off the plane before I even had a chance to change. But the dress ended up being kind of perfect otherwise, for that trip and maybe a half-dozen others to various places both foreign and domestic afterward. Whenever I put it on, I feel a hankering to go out of my way to walk down a street, just to see where it goes, even if that street is just a cul-de-sac in the next suburban neighborhood over from mine. Maybe there’s something cool there.
You do what you have to so you don’t end up pacing the living room and forgetting the way the air feels and the world smells when you’re in a place beyond the allowable travel distance—the supermarket, the forest at the end of the block– in January 2021.
“April is a good month for travel,” I said, even though I knew I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, there’s no way.
“Sure is,” said he.
But hope springs eternal. We all have to have our fantasies. And you know, I already have the dress for it.
Picture (taken by father) today is of me in the dress at Trinity College in Dublin circa 2015.
As of this writing, 72,728,091 people have recovered from Covid-19. 68,153,138 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide .