Last week, the family and I were on vacation in Marathon, Fla., right smack dab in the middle of the Florida Keys. It was our first trip to the Keys, and we all fell in love. Even though you are technically still in this United States of America, it doesn’t feel like it. No, the “Conch Republic,” feels like it is governed by its own laws, or rather none at all. There is a feeling of lawlessness I love.
Kids are running around doing touristy kid things like petting dolphins and spotting manatees, but you are also pretty certain every other boat sailing past you is probably chock full of cocaine. And the two gentlemen seated across from you at the restaurant, looking around and talking in hushed tones, are definitely planning a murder. Or at least you kind of want them to be. They are probably just two guys on their lunch break from the power company. But you never know.
I would say we had just been watching too much of the Netflix show “Bloodline,” which kind of romanticizes this world. But while we were there, authorities did announce a billion dollar drug seizure, so you know, sometimes fantasy and reality collide.
But, in any case, it was nice to spend a week thinking about nothing but fishing spots, reapplying sunscreen and if our neighbors were secretly drug kingpins. They “probably” weren’t. But they did have a big boat that they took out to “fish” all day, every day, but I never saw them come back with anything. Just sayin’! Terrible fishermen or drug traffickers? You decide!
That mystery will remain beautifully unsolved and get bundled in with all of our glorious memories from “a week away from it all.”
But now, we are “back to life, back to reality,” as the tune goes.
And I don’t like it. Take me back. Whaaaaaaa!
As we were getting back into town late Saturday night, I texted my mother-in-law that we had made it home and she replied, “You should probably just keep on going, COVID is worse here now than it’s ever been.”
Of course, I hadn’t totally unplugged, and I knew this. Several of my friends tested positive while we were away (most of whom had been vaccinated), and we watched the mayor’s grim briefings about the numbers. But it was when I went to the grocery store Sunday morning, reality punched me right in the sunburned face, as it was startling to see almost everyone back in masks again. It was not like this when we left. What a difference a week makes.
Hello, 2020! (Not so) nice to see you again.
As I was catching up on email, I opened one from our kids’ school saying they would be masking again. It’s definitely the right call, given the circumstances, but it still didn’t stop the kids from groaning. “I thought you said we weren’t going to have to this year!”
Sorry kids, things have changed. Hopefully it won’t be for very long.
As I headed to work on Monday, I flipped on local talk radio to hear locals arguing over the vaccine. (Calgon, take me back to the Keys and the murderous drug dealers!)
I get that there is a lot of anger and frustration. We all felt like we were out of the woods. There are still TV commercials telling us it is over, and we should come to New Orleans or rent a place from VRBO, so we can reunite with family. “I can see clearly now the rain is gone,” John Legend sings.
But the rain is not gone. Events and concerts are starting to get cancelled again (sorry JazzFest!), and people are frustrated, even pissed. If everyone would have just gotten vaccinated I would be able to see The Rolling Stones, they think, and more importantly, just gotten to go about my daily life again.
I get it. When I was rummaging around trying to find masks I thought we would never have to use again, I just wanted to scream a million expletives, well just one, really. F*$%#ccckkk!
And as I went through my social media feeds, the war between the vaccinated and unvaccinated had reached a depressing fever pitch.
The vaccinated, armed with data, “science,” shame and blame and pity for these idiots who would die soon battled the “Uns,” who were launching their own “data” missiles and reports from their “scientists,” along with proud defiance and pity for those who would one day suffer the consequences of these “untested” vaccines.
It’s a battle that will never be won.
The more you try to convince people to do something or of something, the more they dig their heels in the sand, especially when blame and shame is involved. (Did someone say sand? Please take me back to it!!)
And, of course, like absolutely everything else in this world it has become political.
And you know how easy it is to change someone’s mind about their politics. (The sarcasm is obvious here, right?)
I am not here to bully anyone. And I know several people who are unvaccinated who have personal reasons for that decision I can understand. And who knows, they may escape the virus entirely and me, the vaccinated one, may get all Delta-ed up.
But I will just share my personal experience and thought process. Take it or leave it.
When the vaccine first received authorization, my husband and I joked we were glad we didn’t have to be the first ones to take it, given our “non-essential” status. Luckily, we had plenty of “guinea pigs” around us because many of our friends and family members are in the healthcare profession. And one by one, we watched them all get their vaccines and some, yes, did have side effects. Nothing they didn’t recover from pretty quickly, but still side effects nonetheless.
But then, nothing. They felt fine. No extra horns or appendages. No one got blood clots or had a stroke or heart attack. To me, this was more compelling than FDA approval. I mean, how often do you get to see drugs you may want to take tested out up close and personally on your friends and family members? Muhahahahaha! (There are a few more I would like to see!)
And we are closing in on a year post-vaccine for most of them, and still none have experienced any side effects.
My husband and I chose to be vaccinated in the spring, and other than a few mild side effects right after the shots, we have had the same experience. And, in fact, my kids brought home a summer cold that we all got, and my husband and I actually recovered from it more quickly than we usually do.
You know how it goes, kids bring it home, they have it for three days and give it to you, and you have it for three weeks. But we had it for just a few days too. Maybe it just wasn’t that bad of a cold, but it did make me wonder since the common cold is also a coronavirus, if perhaps the vaccine may have helped shorten its duration. Again, I am not a scientist and don’t even play one on these pages, but the thought did cross my mind. If that ever does prove true, you can sign me up for a jab every year.
It’s hard to know what’s “real” in this world anymore. But I do know our friends and family in healthcare, (yes, our guinea pigs, who I would not characterize as alarmists), are seeing some scary things right now. And another friend just lost a 57-year-old cousin to the variant, a father of three, who was not vaccinated. These things are real.
I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. As for me and my family, we are just going to do the best we can to get through this thing … again. I know you and your family will do the same.
Back to life, back to reality.
Hopefully, we will all get to keep getting to do both, especially the life part.
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