Norrish First Visit to old Home Post Covid

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Norrish First Visit to old Home Post Covid

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In the timeframe of the slow lifting of restrictions from the Covid 19 pandemic and shutdown, my family and I were less inclined to engage in travel, at least originally, than we had been before the pandemic. The luxury of just having the freedom to meet with local friends and re-engage in the simple pleasure of taking in a movie at the theater or going shopping at the mall were enough. Eventually, desire to see family that had been cut off from us because of the pandemic encouraged me to take the plunge and fly to visit my sister in my boyhood home state of Wisconsin, a place I had not visited in over twenty years.
The plane trip itself was a strange mix of familiar experiences such as checking in my luggage and going through airport security combined with new experiences of wearing a mask in the airplane at all times while regularly using hand sanitizer whenever interacting with people or objects potentially infected with Covid 19. Despite being personally vaccinated, the act of traveling in this way felt both isolating and risky. To be masked up while still being in such a confined area as an airplane after the isolation of staying mostly at home for most of a year felt like a flimsy defense against the potential threat from Covid 19. Isolation from one another still seemed to be the new norm for people, with minimal conversations between strangers. Otherwise, the flight itself was uneventful.
Once in Wisconsin, my sister and I spent most of the time visiting locations of my childhood. Places such as our former family farm now owned by a distant cousin, or the creek I learned to swim in or the elementary school I had attended before moving away to Arizona, which had been turned into a recycle center that looked more like a dump than a school. Much of our time was spent talking and reminiscing about the past. Essentially reconnecting in person rather than through text messages or the occasional Zoom call.
When we traveled to more public locations such as restaurants, a local baseball game, or Fourth of July fireworks, it was apparent that despite health protocols being strictly followed in locations like airports, local mask regulations had been greatly relaxed. While essentially all staff members were wearing masks, the majority of patrons tended to be without masks. While hand sanitizer was available in the restroom, it seemed fewer and fewer people were using it. It was once again a strange combination of familiar experiences such as ordering a meal with the overtone of pandemic restrictions such as staff masks hovering over your shoulder like a ghost, present but less and less substantial.
Overall the trip itself was enjoyable, but was mostly an opportunity to reconnect with family while at the same time reassuring myself of the relative safety to be able to travel once again. Eventually, as more restrictions were removed and the increased access to vaccines made Covid 19 less of a fear and more of a nuisance, other family trips to tourist destinations such as San Francisco or Disneyworld became once again a normal part of travel for myself and my family. But my first trip after restrictions began to relax, there was definitely a reminder that the reality of Covid still hovered over our heads, even as we began to move closer and closer to new normal in our post-Covid world.

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This item was submitted on October 12, 2023 by Jerry Norrish using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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