two blocks…

I had to run an errand. It was important.

I was out of gin.

That’s one of the very few things that I still go get. Almost everything except liquor we have delivered. Yes, it’s admittedly a privilege. A significant one. But given a huge pile of givens — including but not limited to the fact that I’m in a couple of high risk groups for things like death if I get sick — we’ve decided to exercise that privilege.

That way we can all keep working and I can keep living and also we can make sure we’re not spreading disease.

But I needed gin.

Why? Well first, because I was out of gin.

What? You need another reason? Fine. A close second? Both Halloween and the election were coming.

Is that enough reason for you? I thought so.

And so the partner and I decided to venture out on this errand together on our lunch break. It’s a nice little walk to the liquor store and the sun was shining but it was cool enough that you needed long sleeves to be comfortable. Which to me is pretty perfect walking weather.

It had been a while since I had left the house. Because I’m taking this whole lockdown thing — you know, the one that — given our ever rising numbers — it seems so many have given up on — pretty seriously. (And yes, I did just use an em-dash clause within an em-dash clause. Because it’s that serious.)

So I don’t leave the house. Pretty much ever. Has it been a few days since I left the house? A week or two? I’m honestly not sure.

And I remember walking next to him up the street and appreciating the sun on my face while I watched his grumpy face lighten up a little. And I walked just close enough to him that our hands would bump up against one another’s as we walked.

As was our usual wont, we cut down a little alley next to a creek. It’s a shortcut. But it’s also to see if the ducks that live there were busy doing cute duck things.

They totally were.

And I marveled at their cuteness and took a big deep breath of fresh air and thought how lovely it was to be out in the sun and the fresh air. And as we turned away from the ducks and went to cross the street I paused for a moment when I saw a couple walking with a stroller up that other side of the sidewalk and I started to say we should wait to cross and looked up into my partner’s face only to realize…

He wasn’t wearing a mask. And I reached up to my own mouth and slapped my hand over it in shock realizing that I wasn’t wearing a mask either!

It was like that moment in a dream when you realize you’re naked on stage and you don’t know your lines. Or perhaps naked at your desk and don’t know your equations. I’m very bad with equations so… anyway.

We made it two blocks from home with no masks on our faces. Smiling and happy — alright, he wasn’t smiling but I could have seen a smile if he was — until the moment we realized that we were the assholes not wearing masks. And I understood how it happened. We’re both tired. We’re both under a lot of stress on multiple fronts. And yeah… we were just going to for a walk in our neighborhood.

And no. We don’t have covid. Or cooties. Or any other germy things. But we do have respect and concern for our fellow humans. So aghast at our colossal fuck up we hurried those two blocks home to get our masks.

When we got back to the house, I had to take a moment. Just to regroup. And by that I mean that I had to sit down and physically will myself not to panic. Will myself to dial back the anxiety.

You see there are a lot of things that make me anxious. But at the very top of the list is people thinking I don’t care or am just awful.

The number of times in my life that I’ve been kept awake by the thought of someone thinking I don’t care is a very high number. I would need an equation to estimate it with any accuracy and, as I previously mentioned, I kind of suck at equations.

After a few minutes, I was able to pull myself together. And we were able to head back out. With our masks on our faces. And with our reusable bag for carrying booze and/or groceries. And with hand sanitizer. And we followed every single social contract I’m aware of while we were on our way to the store and every one on the way back too. I even made up some additional rules to follow just to be certain.

So rest assured. I care. I do. But also if you aren’t wearing a mask and I have to walk within 12 feet of you, I’m going to assume you don’t. It is what it is.

And yes. I’m totally going to judge you.

Feature photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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