Why do I feel so out of place in the surroundings I love?

Today I drove for the first time in a week or so. I drove baby B to his 12 month well-child check. As he was scheduled to receive vaccinations, this visit was still considered essential amidst the Coronavirus lockdown. I thought it would feel good to get out of the house, to see people outside of our home. But with the dynamics of our community shifted from comfort to fear, this simply wasn’t the case.

I found myself even wondering if it was acceptable to have my window down. The sun was out. The temperature was in the low sixties. It was an ideal day for a drive, windows down, wind blowing through my hair. But it did not feel wonderful. It felt like I was breaking an unspoken rule.

Walking into the doctor’s office felt unsanitary and uneasy. Not necessarily for me. I am comfortable in healthcare settings, regardless of who is sick and what they may have. It comes with the territory of being a nurse. But truthfully it felt uncomfortable to those who work there. The front desk staff were cordial, but not social like normal. I felt like all eyes were on me as i tried to fill out forms and make sure my son didn’t touch anything. The medical assistant told my one year not to touch her arm…

The only moments that felt normal were when our family doctor examined B and spoke to me. I really appreciated being around someone who didn’t make me feel like I was walking on egg shells. But this bubble burst when it was again time to leave and get back to our car.

I was acutely aware of all the businesses that were closed. I found myself amazed at the number of people going through the fast food drive thru, while also feeling concerned for the vulnerable window attendant. I relayed scenarios in which I would be pulled over to confirm I was out for essential purposes.

The worst part of the entire experience was feeling dirty. This wasn’t the first time I felt like this. Since the shift in society from Coronavirus took place I’ve felt this way in public. Like I’m not clean, because I may have come in contact with something. And honestly I’m not even concerned about myself, but instead what I could expose someone else with. What if I transfer the virus from one surface to another? What if I take it back home to my children? It’s funny, feeling unclean. Actually, it’s not funny at all. It’s uncomfortable and disheartening.

And the feeling of isolation in public, well that’s worse than feeling isolated at home. Nobody talks to each other. Eye contact isn’t acceptable anymore. There’s no socialization. I’m afraid to have a tickle in my throat from needing to simply take a sip of water. What if my allergies get the best of me in the wrong moment?

The sad thing is, I’m not the only person feeling this way. Many, many people do. We are driven by fear. If not our own fear, then the fear of others. We are so overly cautious and aware of our surroundings and what others say, think, and do.

During my drive home I found myself thinking of two important things. One, I wondered whether we could go back to society as it was before this virus. Would we smile at strangers and strike up a conversation of commonality? I do hope so, but it is unclear. Fear can really change people. And two, how very glad I am that our children are young and naive. That they aren’t going out in public and seeing this drastic shift. And that hopefully they will recover.

So, I leave this message simply with hope. The hope that our children only see the good in this. The hope that our society will connect again. The hope that our children will be the drive for this connection. And the hope that as parents, as adults, we can also see the good as our children do. After all, they need us to.

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