Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

Partly Normal

Today was my first time wearing a mask. Eventually. I had to go out to get the mask materials, specifically at the Gateway Fred Meyer. The store was out of bandanas, so an employee in the clothing section suggested cloth diapers. Now I have a bag of cloth diapers, hair ties I can use as the loops to put a mask around my ears, and, in short, the makings of improvised masks.

It felt weird. I've worn face masks twice before, once in 2005 when I was getting over an illness. This time, I'm both trying not to get sick and trying not to sicken others. The mask is another tool to, I hope, achieve that.

So I was out. I drove to Freddy's (stopping at the Eastport Burger King, and eating lunch in Eastport Plaza's parking lot before getting back on the road), bought the mask stuff, bought more general groceries, then drove home.

And things on the road looked closer to normal than I've seen.

Decent amount of traffic on 82nd Ave., Powell Blvd. and 112th/99th Ave. getting up to Gateway. Decent amount of traffic on I-205 as I drove back. An accident on northbound 205 just south of Stark was backing up freeway traffic a ways.

But it was closer to normal, not normal. Because then I'd see a completely empty movie theater parking lot. I'd get into Freddy's and notice the eating area next to the deli blocked off. I'd hear PA announcements asking customers to wash their hands and not touch their faces, then other PA announcements telling Freddy's staff it was time to clean and disinfect the store. I'd see people in masks. I'd see most of us taking care to give each other space. I'd also be really aware, while not yet wearing a mask, of how careful I was being with my breathing, by mostly breathing in and out through my nose, and how much attention I was paying to my physicality: do I feel any possible signs that maybe I'm getting sick? Am I really fine? Are those around me fine?

I never had to wait long to get reminded: this, right now, is not normal.

After getting home from the main shopping trip, I unloaded groceries (washing hands before and after), then looked up an online tutorial on how to make a mask from the stuff I had. I made one, put it on, and headed out on foot to the produce stand near SE Foster and Harold for my final groceries today. Walking past other people, some in masks and some not, and saying "hi" as cheerfully as possible. On a nice day. We've had a lot of nice days in Portland lately. Nice, except for the virus, maybe being there, being something that many of us are vigilant about.

At least I got more vigilant. And once I was home again, having unloaded the second set of groceries, I changed out of the clothes I'd worn on these trips and got into other clothes. Not PJs, since it's too early for them; I'd look presentable if I went out again. Just with a mask, next time. Another thing to get used to.

Life. It beats the alternative.
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