As part of our inherent drive for preservation and survival, the pandemic has forced many of us to re-evaluate how we interact with others—the person we pass by on the street or in a park or even a close family member invited to share a meal at a table outside or inside our homes.
Our current circumstances have forced us to deal with stranger danger in light of a totally new set of concerns and defenses. Is that stranger wearing a mask? What is the distance I am trying to maintain from him/her? If I stop to talk with them at the dog park or in a grocery store how far is too far but close enough that we aren’t shouting in order to hear each other’s mask-muffled voices? Is it safe to be in a building that others are in? As if life was easy before this, we now have multiple new complexities to deal with, adding even more stress to the challenge of just getting through another day.
The mask will continue to be our best first line of defense against contracting the virus. My fear is that this will go on for months, if not years, until we have an approved vaccine with few to no side effects. I look forward to being able to read the non-verbal interactions I depend on and which I am used to deciphering—basic normal facial expressions. I look forward to again experiencing the easy conversations that turn strangers into friends.