I want to crawl at the feet of every doctor, nurse, lab assistant and scientist for returning these privileges to us after what has seemed like a never-ending season of untold deprivation and loss.
Of course, we are a long way from collective immunity. But in an individualistic country, me first like the United States, I am shocked and delighted that we have made it this far. It is crucial to be vigilant about the inequality of what we have lost and who we have lost. Still, have we taken enough time to appreciate this relatively normal summer that we’re about to experience for the huge win that it really is?
There is reason to rejoice unequivocally.
The reopening of America, depending on where you live, has been done in inches and miles, in spurts. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ll be truly safe as we begin to take precautions away. It is good that we are aware of these risks because, to some extent, our fear was protecting us. But as conditions improve, we also risk becoming trapped in our trauma, so blinded by anxiety – about emerging variants or the empathy needed for unvaccinated people around the world – that we are. unable to fully absorb and commemorate the fact that we have survived a modern world. Plague.
Pockets of increasing cases remind us that this pandemic is far from over here too. There is a lot more that could be done – like offering our neighbors more incentives to get vaccinated and requiring all employers to offer time off for vaccinations (and any side effects beneficiaries may experience). But the presence of these and other issues doesn’t mean we can’t allow ourselves to reconnect in the flesh – or give ourselves the sanity break to feel relief.
I don’t want to go to a rave and breathe the sweat of the twisted bodies of dancing strangers – yet. I’m not ready to drop my mask on public transport. But I want to revel in the collective scientific miracle of our society. I want to be myself again. I want to kiss everyone I know, and some don’t. I want to attend every postponed wedding. I want to lie on my parents’ couch with them and endure hours of their horribly boring crime dramas.
Let’s begin our summer of joys – exuberant and worldly.
Ali Drucker (@ali_drucker) is a cultural writer and the author of the forthcoming book “Do As I Say, Not Who I Did: Honest Advice on Hookups and Relationships in College”.
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