Light at the End of the Tunnel

Photo by ig: @hakannural

Distribution of the coronavirus vaccine is seen by most around the world as the light at the end of the tunnel. Being over 65 allowed me to register in DC to receive my first shot of the Moderna vaccine which I did on Friday morning. It was an incredible relief to finally feel at some point my life would return to normal. 

Like so many others here and around the world I have lived with the constant fear in the back of my mind of contacting coronavirus. For me that fear began ten months ago in the beginning of March when returning from my last vacation. I was flying home from visiting friends in Carmel Valley, California and changed planes in Phoenix. It was the first time I saw anyone wearing a mask. Upon arriving in DC I read everything I could about the virus and immediately looked for masks I could buy. One of my friends had a contact who was importing them from China and I bought my first 100 through him. From the middle of March until today have never left my apartment without a mask. Signs went up in my condo building saying masks had to be worn in the lobby and halls and only one person at a time allowed on the elevators. 

I then did what others did and stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels and Lysol disinfectant spray. As someone who is older with pre-existing medical conditions who was told if I contacted the virus it could be very serious, my life changed very quickly.  

Being a single gay man who loves people and was used to eating out four days a week, eating all my meals at home, and alone, was difficult. I don’t cook, except for scrambled eggs, and using the microwave. My friends kid me my oven is used to store sweaters. Some of my friends decamped to Rehoboth Beach for the duration, where I have a condo, but felt if I needed healthcare it was better in DC and living alone was easier in DC. 

Over the past ten months I have been to my beach house just three times for a total of maybe fifteen days over the summer. I would eat every meal alone for four months. When restaurants began to serve outside I considered eating a meal with a friend but only if that friend had been as careful as me and only at a restaurant following strict guidelines on appropriate distancing and requiring servers to wear masks and gloves.   

With great trepidation and definitely some fear the first place I ventured out to eat a meal with a friend was at one of my favorite places in Rehoboth Beach, Aqua Grill. I also went out each morning for coffee at The Coffee Mill where I knew the owners and staff were being very safe and I sat outside with everyone around me wearing a mask and distancing. In DC I ate a few lunches at Annie’s. I can count on both hands the number of times I have had a meal with friends since March. I just didn’t feel safe. I would work out alone and then when it was reopened with a trainer at FIT, which is a training gym and they were allowed to reopen with strict guidelines.  I had some friends who were being as careful as I was and we would walk around the city every afternoon, seven days a week. I previously shared some of the pictures taken on those walks in the DISH. 

So now I have my first vaccination and counting the days till I get the second shot twenty-eight days from now. I will continue to wear my mask and wash my hands often but after the second shot look forward to eating out more often and doing things safely with friends not having that fear in the back of my mind all the time. 

I know my experiences don’t compare to those who have lost jobs, can’t afford food or even lost their homes. We must insist the Biden administration do everything they can to help those people regain their lives and livelihoods.  We must never forget all those who lost their lives. But for those of us who have survived there is finally a glimmer of hope and that light at the end of the tunnel.