The Situation persists. But it has changed. There are no longer any official restrictions to speak of here in England. Instead it’s down to everyone to figure out individually what’s right.
Everyone is evaluating the risks, making calculations and coming to different conclusions. It’s only natural that everyone—myself incuded—thinks they’ve found the Goldilocks zone. “That person is being far too blasé! And that person is being far too cautious! But I’m doing exactly the right thing.”
With that in mind, I’m trying not to be judgemental about the decisions other people are making (apart from the decsion not to get vaccinated—I’m judgemental as hell about those selfish assholes). For example, I wear a mask when I’m on public transport. Other people don’t. I try not to judge them (although really, how hard is it to wear a piece of cloth for the duration of a bus ride? …sorry, that’s judgy).
This tendency to comparison extends to the country level too. Right now England has the highest case numbers for COVID-19 in Europe. I look at Ireland with its magnificentally low levels of vaccine hesistancy and I’m jealous: why can’t we be like that? But then I look to the United States and think, yowzah!, things could be worse.
Jessica and I have made a couple of trips to London. One involved indoor entertainment—the long-delayed premier of Akram Khan’s Creature at Sadlers Wells. We wore masks. Not everyone did. I tried not to judge. Others would judge me for just being inside the building.
The other trip to London was a dog-sitting visit, hanging out with Cider who is a very good boy.
After each excursion like that, we do a lateral flow test. So far, so negative. Having access to free testing makes a big difference to making post-hoc evaluations of risks. It boggles my mind that testing is pricy luxury in the States (there I go again, making comparisons).
We’ve also started playing tunes at a session in our local pub. We make sure to test ourselves before going. Spending an evening in a pub—even a nice chilled-out pub on a Monday evening—is still a risk. But it’s worth it. Each time we go I think “this is nice.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve had to make risk assessments. I remember it was like this last year between the first and second wave. Can we sit outside a restaurant? Can we go see the new Christopher Nolan film?
But it feels different this time because of our vaccinations. I know the Delta variant has altered the game, but the stakes certainly aren’t the same as pre-vaccine times. So while I’m still trying to avoid catching this damned disease, I’m also trying not to let it rule every decision the way it did last year.
It’s a balancing act. It’s the same balancing act that everyone is undertaking. We’re all walking our own individual tightropes. But at least being vaccinated, the tightrope doesn’t feel quite so high off the ground.
I’m speaking at a conference in Lisbon next week. That means going to an airport. That means getting on a plane. That means spending time inside a conference venue.
But it also means I’ll be travelling to a country with a wonderfully high vaccination rate, where I’ll be able to enjoy the sunny weather and dine outdoors in the evening.
Risks. Benefits. Running the numbers. Making decisions. Trying to do the right thing. Trying to stay safe but also trying to live life.
The Situation persists. But it has changed. I look forward to it changing more. I’m in line to get a booster shot before the year is out. That’ll be another factor in my calculations.
I look forward to a time when I won’t have to keep making these calculations. That time isn’t here yet.