A playful summer

USA is over the coronavirus.

Last year was “the lost summer”.

This year, in America, we will have the most playful summer of our lives.

It feels good to be on top, for once.

Since March of 2020, Americans have watched our countrymen die in huge numbers, the virus become politicized, seen our passports fall from one of the best in the world to one of the weakest, and just generally enjoyed a solid kick in the teeth regarding our country’s ability to respond to unexpected shocks.

Our government printed almost 2.5 trillion dollars, the majority of which went to large businesses, while the average American who kept their job received a whopping grand total $3,200 in financial support for an entire year.

We were the laughingstock of the world.

And within our borders, things were no better. I’ve been screamed at FOR wearing a mask. Given dirty looks for NOT wearing a mask. Been invited out on dates with people who had ACTIVE Covid infections, while my mother let me hug her approximately three times in the last year. A police officer murdered another innocent person of color, and our society, already tired of this repeating script and stretched extra thin from the pandemic, experienced a reflexive response. And of course there was that nonsense at the Capitol in January.

A mess. No matter how you slice it.

As readers of this blog will know, I mostly climbed through the pandemic. I felt very grateful that this was my hobby, and not say, going to bars or taking in concerts. I was able to continue doing my thing relatively uninterrupted.

Even still, these events lie in the air. The situation contaminates everything, from thoughts of the future (so uncertain), to personal relationships, to small talk (which vaccine did you get? how did you feel? sick? cool!)

Although we may not have agreed on how to confront the issue, we were all suffering together.

And now, thanks to a successful vaccine development and rollout, we are free.

Covid vaccines are widely available, for free, for anyone who wants them. Around 50% of the US population is fully vaccinated now. Not enough to completely stop the spread of the virus, but enough to do away with control measures, quarantines, and curfews. Masks have disappeared. If you choose to continue unvaccinated and you get sick — that’s on you.

The feeling in the air is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

People are quitting their jobs.

People are retiring.

People are traveling. People are dating. People are playing.

Young or old, USA is a country that often forgets to play. We are not the most mindful nor the most communal society. Searching for places where those feelings are more common is one of the reasons I travel as much as I do. And yet, this summer, that feeling is here. No passport necessary.

We have survived a collective trauma, and are eager to celebrate that fact. “Things are getting better” can be heard everywhere. There is potential, optimism, and fraternity on everyone’s mind.

I hope we can keep it.

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