Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.Fred Rogers
Are you ready to go back into the world? After 13 months of some level of self-quarantine, it is definitely time to think about how we can return to some sort of normalcy. It is actually quite miraculous how we were able to shut everything down so quickly. And equally miraculous how we we quickly learned to adapt and find new ways to get things done. Entire new industries seemed to spring up around us that will forever change how we do things at home, at work, in sports, theater, travel, etc. Our phones became a necessary accessory no matter what we were doing. We took every kind of class imaginable on Zoom or our computers. We had cocktail hours with friends and met with our doctors electronically. We even traveled without leaving our homes.
I think that the one thing that most of us has missed more than anything else is the human touch. After all, we are social beings who like to be together in the same place. A zoom call is great, but we cannot hug one another as we say hello or goodbye. You can’t have those heated conversations over dinner that bonded families and friends.
Even with Zoom we became lonely. Talk to anyone with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s and they will tell you that they are not doing as well as before the pandemic. Symptoms that were under control have returned. They may be exercising at home but the motivation to work harder that you get with in-person classes just isn’t there. The other important missing piece is the camaraderie that comes with actually going to those classes. PD Boxing classes, PD dance classes and singing groups are part of our support system. The people in those classes understand how we are feeling, they are there for us. It just doesn’t happen through the computer. The synergy of being part of a group is gone.
So after a year of being isolated with little or no actual contact with other people, how do you re-enter the world? Will you always have to wear a mask? How do you stop being afraid to go out? And how can you pry that cellphone out of your hand????
Mr. Twitchy and I have tried very hard to keep some sort of normalcy. At first, we could only see our local grandchildren outside and could not go near them. As time went on, we became more relaxed. We had our bubble of friends that we would have dinner with, usually in someone’s backyard. We started hugging our grandchildren and going inside the house with them. It was a first step towards re-entry.
We got vaccinated!
Then we got vaccinated. Our friends got vaccinated. We started to feel, oh what is it??? FREEDOM!!!! We could go into stores and actually shop. Nail and hair salons opened up. We started eating AT the restaurants, at first outside, eventually taking the next step and eating indoors. Some theaters and sports venues have opened with limited capacity, but I am not sure I am ready to take that step. Eventually I will get there.
And then there is travel.
Finally we took another important step towards re-entry to our previously known world. We got on an airplane!
Last weekend we went to Chicago to visit our daughter and her family. We haven’t seen them since February last year before the shut down, except on Zoom. We took a few of road trips last fall, which seemed much safer than air travel. We started to pack and realized we didn’t know what we needed or could take on the plane. When we got to the airport, it seemed that everything had changed. There were no lines for TSA check in and we breezed through security. About 1/2 the restaurants were closed, so the food you could buy to take on the plane was very limited. The biggest change is how boarding the plane is done. Instead of boarding by groups based on your priority with the airplane, boarding began with the back rows of the plane, gradually moving forward. I assume this is done to reduce crowding in the aisles as you get to your seats. We always sit in the front of the coach section, so we boarded last.
On the flight home, we took advantage of the fact that People with Parkinson’s fall into the Passengers with Disabilities category. We boarded early and quickly, without having to be in a crowd inside the jetway. I am not sure it matters since the plane was completely full. There is no way to keep six feet away from the person sitting next to you. You just have to trust the system and hope that the air filtration on the plane is the best it can be.
If you are planning to fly, don’t rely on the airline to provide you with any food. There isn’t any right now except a snack pack with a bottle of Water, a cookie and a bag of pretzels, all packed in a little drawstring plastic bag for our 4 hour flight. The flight was thankfully uneventful and we landed in time to have dinner with our grandchildren. As far as we are concerned, they are the best reason for re-entry into some type of normal, whatever it looks like. Those hugs and kisses were absolutely delicious!