A Farewell to Masks

Published by Brooke 7 months ago on Fri, Jun 11, 2021 9:30 AM

Here are some facts about the coronavirus in the United States updated on 6/3/2021 

-The CDC tells me that once fully vaccinated, under most conditions, you can stop wearing a mask in most conditions (Center for Disease Control).

-Right now, in the United States, at least 41% of people are fully vaccinated and 51% have had at least one dose (New York Times).

-I’ve entered several businesses in Seward where they don’t require masks, but also, I feel weird not wearing one, so I do the thing where I either hang it on my wrist or let it hang off one of my ears in a noncommittal way, which probably looks more awkward (Brooke Lange).  

Whatever you believe about masks at the moment, the signs seem to be pointing to wearing them less often, so now seems to be an appropriate time to reflect.  

Whatever masks meant to you–a subordination to Big Brother, a way to keep your loved ones safe, a convenient method to hide your undesirable side profile, they were something we all had to experience, in one form or another. Even though we might just want to forget this period, I believe it’s worthwhile to reflect on the unique, tangible effects masks have had on our lives. 

You had a shield of privacy.   

Ah, the obscenities you can mouth! The tears you can cry! The food that can stay comfortably lodged in your teeth! In this regard, masks have allowed us to be at a slightly lower plane of existence, which I think is something we all needed this year.  

You have gotten resourceful.  

I know I have certainly forgotten my mask when I’ve gone places. I think we’ve all been there. I’ve seen people use their clothes, napkins, and even Walmart bags to create makeshift masks. And people say our generation is soft! Look at you now! You’re willingly putting a nonventilated plastic bag over your nose and mouth –that’s all three of your breathing orifices– to protect people around you. Some may call it ill advised, but I call it ingenuity (and maybe a little ill-advised). 

Your communication has gotten more creative.  

 My eyebrows are more agile, my smize is more recognizable, and I have strengthened my pointing and shouting skills. I’m not saying that I could be the sarcastic, influential leader of radical political movement right now, but I could very well be on that path.  

You have become more resilient.  

Whether it was when you took your mask off for the first time around new people and they looked... surprised and possibly a little disappointed, or you entered a new social setting and you weren’t quite sure what to do about wearing a mask, there’s been another level of things we have to navigate. It’s been stressful, but emotionally, you have grown so much. 

You now have um...skills? 

Like tying a cherry stem in your mouth or doing an Elvis impersonation, there are skills you’ve probably acquired during this time that you don’t necessarily need, but you have anyways.  I can manipulate my mask so my glasses will not fall off my face or fog up. I can drink coffee without removing my mask. I can now store fruit snacks in my mask in such a way that people do not realize I am eating fruit snacks. Not necessarily interesting or helpful, but a skill nonetheless.  

You’ve been given another way to express yourself. 

I’m assuming there hasn’t really been a time before now when your neighbor, your school’s business office, or old ladies from your church would 1. give you clothes and 2. you would also wear them. We have lived through a time when that has happened regularly, and what a gift that is.  

  Before this pandemic, I don’t think anyone could have made the assertion, “Hey, you look like a gal who loves Minnie Mouse.” Now, thanks to masks, they can!  As someone who’s neutral at best towards Minnie Mouse, it really has given me an opportunity to ponder some things in my life, like if I’ve really appreciated Minnie Mouse enough, and why the neighbor who gave me this mask thought I was someone who had the capacity to. What a blessing! What a worthwhile thing to ponder! 

However you choose to remember this time, I just hope you know that you’ve done a great job adjusting, learning, and navigating things you never really thought you would have to. This season was weird and hard and you got through it. Proud of you!