When people say they won’t get vaccinated for COVID-19, I think, “Well, that leaves more for me.” Sure, I’m concerned about side effects from a new vaccine made quickly to prevent humans from contracting a new virus. But, to me, the alternative is far worse.
It’s official: I’m over the coronavirus. I actually was over it six months ago. But now, with at least three promising vaccines in the pipeline, I’m really over it. I’ll continue to wear my mask and abide by social-distancing restrictions, but a shot in the upper arm can’t arrive soon enough.
I’m ready to be in the middle of a crowd again. I want to go concerts, sporting events and Vegas buffets without worrying about giving or contracting a disease. Remember the last time you were shoulder to shoulder with other people, feeding off each other’s energy, whether listening to music or celebrating a milestone? Remember what that was like?
I miss those days — just nine long months ago. Now winter is arriving and the homes we’ve been cooped up in are feeling even more cramped. The familiar faces in our lives are getting even more boring. It’s time for a change of scenery.
I’m ready for Canada to open. I want to visit Fernie and Banff again and welcome our northern neighbors back to the valley. Packs of bachelor and bachelorette parties from north of the border roaming the streets of Whitefish will be a sure sign that life is getting back to normal.
I miss the parades in our cities, where we line the streets and wave at strangers who earn prizes for building the most attractive floats. I miss dressing up as yetis and penguins for Whitefish Winter Carnival; illuminating Nucleus Avenue in Columbia Falls for Night of Lights; and, of course, riding barstools and arm wrestling at Cabin Fever Days in the Canyon.
Traditionally, this is the time of year where we make a point to gather. We lure each other out of our homes and weather the darkest days of the year with an eclectic series of celebrations unique to the Flathead. Instead, most of them are on hold as the pandemic intensifies, sickens more Montanans and strains our health care system.
As the end to outbreak increasingly comes into the focus, it’s time to remain vigilant. We’ve made it this far. We can certainly make it a few more months while health departments and government officials across the country make plans to distribute vaccines. And when the restrictions are lifted, and it’s safe to get together, perhaps we’ll value our community even more.
I, for one, certainly will. I can’t predict when a vaccine will be broadly available, but I’ll line up when it is. Then I will peruse the calendar in search for the largest and loudest party I can find. I’ll be heading that way, without a mask, to mark the end of what has been a trying year for all of us. I think I still remember how to dance, cheer and laugh with other people.
As winter draws closer, COVID-19 restrictions have only expanded. Sadly, we still need to remain cooped up. But when it’s over — finally — I look forward to seeing you in a crowd somewhere. Celebrating.
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