All vaxxed up with no place to go

By Kris Ferrazza | Mar 31, 2021

A round white Band-Aid was the only souvenir I received from the coronavirus vaccine I got last month.

Luckily, I had no arm pain or symptoms after the first round of “the Fauci ouchie.” My trip to the pharmacy was quick. The longest part was the 15-minute observation period I spent staring at the Dr. Scholl’s insoles. Who knew we had so many options? God bless America.

While I sat there, I was overcome with a rush of hope I hadn’t felt in awhile. With time to kill, my mind wandered to the early days of the pandemic. They were dark and scary times for a news junkie like me.

The first red flag locally was the sudden cancellation of the Empty Bowl Supper at Medomak Valley High School. This district-wide art show is a highly anticipated event that draws hundreds of people. It celebrates students of all ages with live performances and exhibits. New state guidelines that limited public gatherings to fewer than 250 people was the death knell for the four-hour fundraiser.

“Is this really happening?” I said aloud, as the message flashed across my Apple Watch.

Next came the news that our little school was going remote out of an abundance of caution. We hastily assembled things to send home with our students. I quickly recorded several read-alouds from my chair in the library, thinking I could post them on the website, if necessary. Taking one last look around, I grabbed a few things from my desk and said goodbye to my coworkers, not sure when we’d be back.

“See you on the other side,” I said, walking out the door. It sounded ominous and felt surreal.

At home, I scoured news sites for information. Even Matthew McConaughey was demonstrating how to turn a scarf or bandana into a face mask.

“So we’re really doing this?” I said aloud. Talking to myself was becoming a habit. “Yes, I guess we’re doing this.”

Grabbing a leopard scarf from my dresser drawer, I folded it into a mask and tied it to my face. The dog barked with surprise when I turned around. One peek in the mirror and I saw why. I looked like a chic bank robber.

Off to the store I went and bought a trunk full of Kleenex, ginger ale, Tylenol and non-perishable food. There was no toilet paper, no Lysol, no lots of things. While driving home, I wondered if I just caught coronavirus and asked for “a sign.” (I do things like this.)

Moments later “Don’t Fear the Reaper” blared on the radio. I laughed like a lunatic, put my window down and turned the volume up all the way.

Back home, I started an inventory of the food in the cupboards, so I knew what I had and what we needed to find. We don’t normally do this.

I called to check on my 91-year-old father, and was relieved when he answered the phone. He seemed oblivious to what was happening in the world. Fortunately, his television became locked on the children’s channel, and he couldn’t switch over to the news. I told him it was for the best, and to just stay home until he heard it was safe to leave the house. He didn’t seemed phased at all.

“OK, I gotta let you go. The ‘Cat in the Hat’ is coming on,” he deadpanned. God, I love him.

My husband busied himself with home projects when he wasn’t at work. Having all of us at home drove him to his workshop more than usual. One day, I looked out the window and saw him digging a large hole. He covered it with a blue tarp and drove his shovel into the fresh dirt nearby when he was finished.

To be proactive, I contacted the neighbors, writing, “I swear, it’s not what it looks like,” and assured them everything was fine here. They suggested I post a sign next to the tarp, in case detectives knocked on my door.

For all of spring, “Too Much Time on My Hands” by Styx became the earworm I just couldn’t shake. I worked, baked and fretted that perhaps my husband secretly wasn’t wearing a mask at work.

“I’m wearing it, I swear!” he’d say.

“Pictures or it didn’t happen!” I’d shoot back.

A minute later, he would text me a photo of himself and the guys on somebody’s roof or in a basement. He was wearing his mask. Good boy.

Summer came, and my daughter buried herself in Star Wars movies, chatted with friends on FaceTime and did her pet-sitting job. My husband shingled the back of the house. I followed the news, downloaded TikTok and watched “Hamilton” half a million times. We also played board games and continued our quest for toilet paper and Clorox wipes.

Each day we would decide where to go. Would it be the front porch or the backyard? The pool or the hammock? Upstairs or downstairs? We did venture to the beach a few times. Even the seagulls seemed to be social distancing.

Then, in what might have been the most 2020 thing ever, my daughter found three — count them three — ticks. They were on the sand, on her beach towel, and trying to get on her. Ticks at the beach? That was a first. We took it as a sign of the end times.

As fall approached, I tried to stay calm. We were uncertain about a return to school. So I made a back-to-school list: “1. Buy pencils, Sharpies and highlighters; 2. Write a will.” I stared at it for a minute, then crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash.

We kayaked, picked blueberries and hooked up an old rotary phone in our house, just for fun, heralding the return of the landline. It was the most excitement my teen experienced in a month. She practiced dialing the rotary phone for a day and a half, calling her friends and asking us to call her, so she could hear it ring. Simple pleasures.

Once September arrived, we decided to don our backpacks and give school the old college try. We put away our Hawaiian Tropic and light sabers, turned off Netflix and dug out the lunch boxes. The dog began to pace nervously and watch our every move. She knew change was in the air when I put on real clothes, dusted off my makeup bag and had my gray hair dyed at the salon.

Finally, the big day arrived. We set our alarms, packed plenty of masks and Purell, and went for it. I was surprised to find the library was like a time capsule. The calendars still read March 2020. But by lunchtime, it was almost business as usual. Staff and students all were masked and happy to be together again.

With one vaccine in my arm and another on the calendar, I look forward to finally visiting my father in Providence. Hopefully he fixed his TV, because I’ll definitely want to keep an eye on the news.

And the beat goes on.

Kris Ferrazza is a former reporter, assistant editor, copy editor and columnist with the Courier newspapers. She lives in Waldoboro.

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