Sunday, July 12, 2020

The New Normal

My risk for COVID-19 is no higher than it is for others “of a certain age,” nor is it for Greg. I’ve been so cautious and vigilant since March, perhaps overly so, that I started to wonder if I needed to loosen up. I wouldn’t do anything reckless or foolish to endanger myself or others, but maybe my caution was verging on neurosis. Many Facebook friends seemed to be going about their masked lives with some semblance of normalcy, and I found myself thinking, “I want to feel normal, too.”

Sunny and 72 degrees, it was a gorgeous afternoon – the kind we wait all year for. I had a prescription to pick up, and a favorite Starbucks is right next door to the pharmacy. With umbrella’d tables on a sunny, quiet patio, it has been the location of many sketches made on early summer days, celebrating al fresco weather.

All the way there, I tried to imagine what my new normal would look like: I’d heard that the Starbucks mobile pickup option was nearly contact-free – just order and pay with the app, then walk in when the drink was ready – so I wasn’t too concerned about that part. I was thinking more about the al fresco sketching part. After getting my drink, I could find a table and perch on a chair (sitting not too deeply, and certainly not touching the arms). The table, too, was to be avoided, except to hold my beverage. Oh, the cup – wouldn’t the barista have to hand it to me? So that means I’d have to sanitize my hands first before reaching into my bag for my sketch gear. And if I drank from the cup, I’d have to resanitize again before continuing my sketch (much easier than sanitizing my sketchbook and every pencil, not to mention my entire bag). Should I leave my mask on, in case people passed by too closely on the patio? But then how would I sip?

When I arrived, the patio was void of tables. Hallelujah, I wouldn’t be able to sketch after all! Inside, the barista handed me my beverage cup placed inside a large ceramic mug, which he held by its handle, so he didn’t have to touch my cup at all (at least as far as I could see). Of course, I had to open the door, so I sanitized my hands afterwards anyway.

Driving home happily with the top down, I relished my ability to be normal again.

The new normal.


  1. Your story made me chuckle. I think sometimes we get obsessed with our precautions. I still religiously wash everything I bring home from the market. I have stopped a few times to satisfy my craving for pizza for lunch, but mostly end up sitting in my car to eat it so I don't have to worry about touching anything else. Looking at the upturn in cases in so many places I think this will be a long-term way of doing things. Safety first!

    1. Yeah, I think you're right...who knows how long we'll have to be careful.


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