Having written an entry about how the cats are doing, it feels like I should write one about how I’m doing.
I’m okay. I’m not great.
After a year and a half of working from home I am so done with it. I’ve always felt like I’m an introvert at my core, but I hate not having people and activity around while I’m working. (I’ve always positioned my desk at work so I can look out the door to see people going by in the hallway.) I miss the random conversations we’d have in the office. And I really hate the mixing of my home and work lives, which I’ve always worked to keep sharply separate. Going up to our study and having my work machines there is disspiriting.
I also have bought lunch at the cafeteria at work almost every day since I started at Apple, which I realize is a really privileged thing to do, but figuring out lunch every day is a drag.
Once the vaccines started rolling out we got vaxxed pretty quickly, and I was hopeful that things would return to normal. Apple had tentatively planned a return to the office in early September. Well, it’s now early September and the return has been pushed back to 2022, and that’s not Apple’s fault, it’s a combination of the Delta variant of COVID, and the amazing number of stupid people who are refusing to get vaccinated. And also the slow roll-out of vaccines to the rest of the world (last I read about 25% of the world is fully vaxxed), which will prolong this until we can massively up that number, as unless we develop an even better vaccine, we probably need 90% or more worldwide vaccination to beat this thing. (I think the worldwide vax rate is a greater long-term thread than the antivax shenanigans in the United States, because the opportunities for the virus to mutate are so much greater outside the U.S. That may change, but we’re not nearly there yet.)
Anyway, some things have improved for me. I scheduled a weekly coffee meeting with some of my cow-orkers at the Philz near work – outside, and yes, unmasked. The eight or so of us who have made it (not all at the same time) are fully vaxxed, and I think only one has children who aren’t vaxxed. I’ve been letting parents decide their level of risk tolerance for getting together with others, and by ‘letting’ I mean trying not to put any pressure on them, because they have enough to deal with.
Debbi has been way more cautious than me during the pandemic, so we haven’t been going out to eat, and I’ve done the grocery shopping – usually during the week when it’s quieter – and picking up take-out. Now that we’re vaccinated she’s been doing a few more things: We’ve switched grocery shopping to Sunday after the farmer’s market, and we’ve gone out to eat several times, though only once inside. We’ve also gotten together with friends, both at their house, and having people over for barbecues at ours. We’re masked during our errands, other than eating, of course. We’re not yet ready to fly, and I don’t know when that will happen, the way things are going. I don’t especially relish wearing a mask for 6+ hours to fly to visit family or go to Hawaii anyway.
So it’s been a long road, and it’s been gradually wearing me down. It feels like everything just gets a little bit harder as the pandemic slogs on. Even though I take the occasional time off, I never get away from it all because I can’t actually go away.
Where do we go from here? It seems clear that successful vaccination is the only path out of this, but the vaccination failures means that even if our vaccinations remain effective and there aren’t new variants that get past them, we’re going to be in this situation for quite a while.
I know a few people who are living lives of hermits (or so it seems), and maybe that’s the smart thing to do. But it’s also very, very hard. Probably harder for many people than it is for me, but it’s hard for me too. I understand people flying on vacation, flying to visit family, trying to return their lives to normal. I really want that too, but not enough to loosen my own level of caution more than I have so far.
I try not to think about how much longer this might go on, though. I just hope everyone will get vaccinated so we can shorten that time as much as possible.