rites of passage

I often think of the life I grew up in. We drank out of the garden hose in summer, ate cookies we dropped on the floor if we were quicker than the dog, ignored cuts and bruises, had no air conditioning (attic fan… with all the upstairs windows open it was like one giant ceiling fan).

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We spent summer evenings chasing lightning bugs, playing kick the can till well past dark. We occasionally got into mischief, breaking into a neighbor’s paint shed and spattering the paint, catching someone’s goldfish out of a backyard pond or picking flowers from someone’s flower bed. When we got caught we got paddled.

We generally went to church on Sundays and ate a big dinner with family and friends after. Summer reading was Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss books in elementary school until we were assigned books. We pledged allegiance to the flag in the morning and had bomb drills where we got under our desks and laughed at how silly it was. We said our prayers at night with Mom or Dad and had a long list of people, dogs, friends we asked God to bless. We were allowed to go pretty much anywhere as long as our Moms knew generally where we were. We didn’t need secret passwords for school because we weren’t likely to be kidnapped and we were smart about strangers.

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We knew enough to come inside out of a lightning storm and heard stories about people who got struck by lightning bolts. We ran barefoot almost all the time and our moms made sure tetanus shots were up to date. We told ghost stories, night or day and halfway believed them.

We had jobs cutting lawns or babysitting that paid 50 cents or a dollar an hour and we thought we were rich. An “allowance” meant an exception to punishment, not more money.

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Almost everybody had a dog. Some had cats but if they didn’t have something they didn’t seem quite right. Arguments were settled with “am not!” “are too!” until we got distracted and forgot the fight altogether. We didn’t hold grudges.

Some families had televisions that took a while to warm up, then the picture disappeared to a dot of light when you turned it off. If you were sneaky you could watch really quietly until around 11 p.m. when the channel signed off with the national anthem, a flag waving, and then a test pattern with a really annoying monotone.

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We didn’t have electronic games, PlayStations, Nintendo, iPhones or iPads. No computers. We relied on our energy and imaginations. We didn’t worry about hurting ourselves. We just ran until we either ran out of time or strength. Or both. We played fair and called out anyone who didn’t so they could make it right. We played by rules everybody agreed to and they shouldn’t be broken. Even as little kids we believed there was a right and wrong and we did our best to do things right and hold our friends accountable as they did us.

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When did everything change, and why?

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compliance

Driving over a thousand miles I had no preconceptions of what I’d see on the roads. I know some states have restrictions but not where I was driving. People are flying again and airlines are increasing passenger numbers.

Highways were crowded. Mostly semis but a lot of passenger cars, from all over. It was encouraging. People aren’t still cowering at home.

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Gas stations at every stop required a mask. The only stop where I did not see them worn, though there were signs for them was Alabama. The rest rooms were closed because of covid but no mask.

When I stopped on the way the first night the desk clerk was vocal about disliking the mask. I couldn’t argue and we had a good laugh about masks being hot, and not in a good way.

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When I got where I was going in Texas hill country the inn proprietor had no mask. Noticing mine (hard to miss) she said the whole county had no active covid cases and had only 3 people die of it, one who was 106 years old. Reassuring.

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So on my visit there were actual handshakes, hugs and normal distancing. What a difference from where I live. I reflected how sad it is, the level of fear. I realized these severe precautions are not so much concern for others as it is out of fear. And we don’t even see it.

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I hope my carelessness caused no harm, to anyone. But the warmth and normalcy were heartening. I had no idea how absence of human touch, or even the ability to choose it or not, had adversely affected me.

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Returning home to tropical storm Isaiah damage shocked me back to reality. The morning after the storm husky-mix rescue dog Lily decided to guard the little Bradford pear tree the storm knocked down, I suppose to make sure nothing else fell off. I had the tree cut down and cleared away before I left but debris piles are still around. Takes a while to clear it away.

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silent

I honestly have never been at a loss for words. As a child my father called me a chatterbox. I could chat anybody up on almost anything once I got an idea of their interests.

But this strange restriction has got me. I have realized I am fed up with it and am trying to quietly wait it out. I’m at a point where I am certain a doctor will have a universal solution and we will all be free of this.

Freedom is not just movement, but a state of mind. You can have all the money you could ever imagine, access to any form of travel, homes in many countries and still be bound in some way.

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I hear over and over of Christian or prisoners of other faiths, wrongfully imprisoned yet their hearts and minds are unbound by the cell that has become their world. They sing, they accept with joy even the vile or menial tasks they are given and do their very best at it.

This virus is very odd. There seems to be more to it and we are fighting psychological as well as social and emotional bondage from it. I for one am beginning to tire of the same doctors who have been directing us these past several months. But when new doctors begin to tell us of therapies that have proven successful in treating this malady, that could give us immunity and therefore freedom, they are quickly silenced.

Why?

I may never know the answer. I do know that God knows the number of our days. This relieves considerable stress. I no longer worry irrationally about masks or hand sanitizer. I do what I am legally directed, follow sensible advice and leave the rest.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu have experienced little change in their routines. We have never been banned from parks so as long as the weather has warranted we go for walks. The summer has begun to be summer hot so we are limited in time of day, but they are older now and do not mind the extra long afternoon nap times.

The beach inn where my family and I vacationed every summer cancelled all existing reservations, then opened to new reservations. This made no sense, since many simply made new reservations. We did not, nor did anyone who shared the inn with us for ‘our’ week.

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So since I did not get to visit my family last year for any holiday at all it’s been a year since I have seen them. Call me foolish but I’m driving to east Texas from coastal NC next week. Packing masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes.

Unless this Isaias storm has other ideas.

(why couldn’t it just be called Isaiah?)