Summer in the USA— With or Without a Mask

Everyone wore masks at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. If you didn’t bring a mask they gave you one before you were allowed to enter. Simple. No decision on mask wearing required.  Other situations require you to use your own judgement.

The sign on the door outside the supermarket says, ‘”No masks required if you are vaccinated. If you are not fully vaccinated, for your own protection and the safety of others, wear a mask.” Other signs request you to “socially distance” ie “Stay 6 feet away from other shoppers.” Sanitizing hand stations remain.

At a restaurant the world looks normal, or more appropriately stated—restaurants almost look as they did pre-pandemic. Except the servers are wearing masks. This doesn’t mean they aren’t vaccinated.  Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but in order to give the appearance of having all safety protocols in place, they wear masks. Regardless, it is wonderful, to feel comfortable enough to eat out, surrounded by strangers.

Currently, Covid-19 in the United States is at a manageable level.

Decisions. Decisions. I’ve worn a mask several times in stores, although I’m fully vaccinated, because everyone else is wearing one and I don’t want to appear foolhardy. No one ever asks, “Are you fully vaccinated?” or asks for proof of vaccination. We are on the honor system.  And currently in the United States, asking for proof of vaccination is not the current protocol. Asking for a recent negative test is rarely required. Asking if you feel okay and taking your temperature is still practiced before entry into medical establishments. Otherwise, if you are vaccinated, you tell yourself you’re unlikely to get sick.

Sometimes I wish wearing masks in stores was still a requirement. I’ve gotten accustomed to the quiet. Last week, I was jolted by the booming voice of a woman talking into her phone earpiece while she shopped. I couldn’t help but listen to the conversation, a conversation that included legal advice. “We feel you have a strong case,” she was saying, “And I’d be happy to represent you…”  Yes, this person was an attorney. Professional ethics? Well, I suppose she was still keeping the identity of the parties in the case confidential. 

Back inside the aquarium, watching my grandchildren’s bright eyes take in the antics of sharks, rays, seahorses, and eels, I attempted to take pictures. But when I looked at the photographs, they weren’t worth keeping. Hidden were the smiles on their faces. Even the younger of the two, not quite three years old, were wearing masks.

We make adjustments. The world keeps getting hotter. The ice is melting and the sea is rising. Because it is summertime, I’m feeling this change more intently. I keep my focus on what is good. Too many Americans continue to behave selfishly.

My husband Peter planted sunflower seeds all around the edges of the garden, in between the boxwood hedges and as a backdrop to both flowers and tomato plants. The sunflower plants are tall and strong.  Buds have begun to form and soon the blooms will open to reveal petals of gold. His small gift to the neighborhood. If only we cared more about each other. Maybe there is still some time . I embrace the possibilities.

child in mask at aquarium

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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