California Unmasked

I was about 15 minutes into my morning run when I saw the lady with the golden retriever and waved. She waved back and agreed it was going to be a hot one today. About five minutes later I was climbing a big hill when a couple walking their black lab gave me the thumbs up. “You got this, girl,” the woman said, and smiled. 


I felt a little naked without my neck gaiter, but I also realized with each friendly encounter that when people see your entire face, they are more apt to engage. Today’s the first day Californians can move about our state more freely, with vaccination rates high and COVID-19 cases very low now. Most restrictions over the past 16 months are now lifted, with exceptions.

 

You still need a mask at schools and hospitals, dentists and doctor’s offices. And you need to mask up when riding on public transportation, cabs, trains and planes. This is going to make it even stranger (and more dangerous) to travel, at least until Sept 13 when those masks can be removed too. Air rage incidents sparked by mask use are out of control.

 

If you’re fully or partially vaccinated—and 75% of San Diegans now are—then you can breathe easier outdoors, indoors and around crowds of people. I did still see my neighbor with her blue mask under a plastic face cover, but I know she’s immune suppressed. 

 

Something else I hadn’t done in almost 16 months: I wore lipstick to work. I had to moderate a webinar with some 650 live attendees and wanted to look more kept together than I actually am. It felt good to actually care about my appearance for a change.

 

The same day one in eight Americans (yes, that’s how populous this state is) began to move about more freely, the U.S. also surpassed 600,000 COVID-related deaths. Those are direct causes; never mind the fresh waves of gun violence, domestic terrorism and general incivility we’ve experiencing as we open the release valve on that societal pressure cooker. 

 

Yes, there are still many, many things to worry about, between our current heatwave and extreme drought and the evolving dismantling of democracy. But for now, let’s be grateful that we made it through the worst of the pandemic and can hug or high-five each other for staying strong and rediscovering what really matters.


(It's jacaranda season in San Diego, when the streets are lined with bursts of purple!)

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