How My Expectations for COVID Protocol Has Changed — for YOU

Red pines from my car

A few days ago, I completed a road trip to the Upper Peninsula. I bought a parcel of land there during the last two years. I like to call it my COVID project. I’m the proud owner of two lots covered with oak and red pine trees and home to wildlife and lichen.

So we were anxious to drive the six hours north once again.

We were able to avoid crowds and enjoy a lovely road trip. Of course, we brought our trusty masks with us and wore them whenever we went inside a building with strangers. That means grocery stores, hotel lobbies, and gas stations. We didn’t eat inside restaurants. If the weather permitted, and it did for the most part, we ate outside if the restaurant provided a patio. If not, we carried the food back to our hotel or parked the car somewhere with a view.

We were delighted with the views that our road trip provided.

I’m retired and have had the luxury of avoiding close contact with people since the pandemic began. Neither my husband nor I have had COVID. We’re a dwindling group of seniors who can make that claim.

We’ve developed a very precise way of reentering the maskless world that allows us a level of protection and still the opportunity to do things we’d like to do. Masking indoors around strangers is our #1 piece of protection. I’ve not had so much as a cold for two and a half years, I have a lot of faith in this controversial safeguard.

I no longer care, however, about what everyone else is doing nor what they think of me when I wear my mask.

I’m seventy-one. That puts me in the high risk group. I can accept that. It’s up to me to take care of me. Personally, I don’t have the desire to test the waters in order to find out whether I might become a long hauler or not. I also don’t want to spend the money on the medical care that ensues.

Since the western world at large has decided to go maskless, it’s up to me to look after me.

I’m okay with that. So, I no longer care what YOU do. Younger people don’t need to worry about me or sacrifice their lives for an old woman who’s in a high risk group. I understand. I no longer try to guess what’s down the road for those who contract any of the variants that are in our future.

YOU will have to deal with the consequences. I can accept that, too.

It sounds heartless to some perhaps, but I’m a pragmatist. If I can get 70% of what I need, I call it a good day. This path that I’ve chosen for myself gives me 70% of what I need. I can put on my big girl panties and accept the 30% I can’t control.

I must add, however, that if and when I travel, that’s the last place that I want to get COVID.

Even domestic travel can be terribly uncomfortable when one gets sick far from home. So, if there’s a time when wearing the mask around srangers makes perfect sense to me, it’s when I’m on the road.

I recently had a friend send me a message asking for my advice.

Her brother was on a trip in Europe and contracted COVID while in Barcelona. He doesn’t speak Spanish and he wasn’t allowed to board the plane to return home.

She wanted to know if I could recommend a doctor who spoke English.

First of all, my apartment in Spain where I’ve been wintering for seventeen years is far away from Barcelona. Second, I was pretty sure that until he tested negative, he wouldn’t be allowed back on the plane. I had to wonder, however, if he had abandoned the mask.

Since almost everyone has, I figure he has, too.

I’ve been traveling internationally for almost two decades and I have a well developed plan for staying healthy and safe when in foreign countries. I’ve written articles for lots of travel websites advising senior citizens or women traveling alone how to stay safe. The last thing you should want is to get sick or injured on a trip, but if your trip takes you to a foreign destination, well, come on. Don’t take risks and then call me later.

Why would anyone want to create a lot of trouble for themselves. You’re there to enjoy new experiences not endure uncomfortable ones.

Oh, well, the world will keep turning even though the vast majority of people aren’t particularly good decisionmakers. So, I’ll be traveling abroad again no doubt, but my mask and updated vaccines will accompany me. And, when I get overseas, I’ll avoid indoor crowds, eat outside, and wear a mask when I’m forced inside around strangers.

It’s that simple and that hard.

YOU can do it differently and most will. I no longer care. I’m pretty good at taking care of myself, thankfully.

We’re not out of the woods yet.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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