Officially Vaccinated: What Next?

As of about an hour ago, it’s been two weeks since Denisa and I got our second COVID vaccine shot. Which means (theoretically) we can start going back to some of our old routines. It’s surprising to me how many things that used to seem very normal and not that stressful are now giving me low level anxiety (or worse). For example, I used to plan trips all the time. I don’t love flying (a well-established fact with long-time blog readers), but I love traveling enough to overcome my dislike of flying. The lack of travel was a real blow during COVID, and so it was high on my list of things to do as soon as I could.

I’m not one to shirk from doing something just because it’s making me anxious, and it was Denisa and my 20th anniversary just a week ago. So we’re heading to Puerto Rico next Sunday for a five night stay. That’s right! I’m finally using all these free Marriott room reservations we had stockpiled from credit card rewards, and we used up all of the credit I had with American Airlines from getting two trips canceled. We’ll be staying at a resort on the beach in San Juan, and we’ve got tours booked to hike through the rain forest, go kayak in a bioluminescent bay, snorkel, and scuba dive. These are all definitely things we haven’t been able to do in Maine, and so I’m really looking forward to it.

That said, it was still stressful to make out all the reservations and plan a schedule again. You’d think it’d be just like getting back on a bike, and I suppose it is. However, for that comment to make sense, you need to know about the time I was on my mission in Germany and was suddenly confronted with living in a city (Gotha) where the Elders had always used bikes to get around. My new companion asked me if I could ride, and I said of course. But I hadn’t biked since . . . middle school? I don’t know. It had been a while. He hopped on his bike and sped off. I teetered onto mine and tried to catch up. And it was true! I could still maintain my balance on a bike. But then I saw he’d stopped abruptly by a mailbox to send a letter, and I discovered I couldn’t remember how to stop a bike. I tried backpedaling (old habits die hard) to no avail. The bike had handbrakes. And I distinctly remembered being told never to use one of those brakes to stop fast. I couldn’t remember which one. In the heat of the moment, I panicked and chose at random.

I chose poorly.

I jammed on the front brake, and my front tire came to an abrupt halt, launching me up and over my handlebards onto the sidewalk. I ruined a pair of suit pants that day. (Good thing my suit came with two. I’d ruin the other pair a few weeks later in another bike accident. When my companion was transferred a month later, I hid both bikes in a closet and didn’t mention to my new companion that we had them. We walked from then on . . .)

So yes. Planning trips really is just like riding a bike.

In any case, the trip’s planned now, and I’ve got other irons in the fire for future trips. Out to Utah. Down to Boston. Down to Pennsylvania. Over to Machias. Camping. I will wear a mask and follow any social distancing/testing rules I need to when I go to these places, and I’m definitely wondering how stressed I’m going to be flying (with strangers!) after all this time, but I’m very much looking forward to being somewhere farther than an hour’s drive away from my house.

I realize the pandemic is far from over, especially when I look at the horrific things going on in India at the moment. But I still have to celebrate the progress that’s happening locally and personally. Hopefully there’s more and more of that in the days to come.


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