The disparity between the circumstances and fates of different people offended Dickens in the Christmas season. For him, it as a time to think about what we owe one another, how we live with one another…
-Maureen Dowd, "Why Dickens Haunts Us," The New York Times, 12/25/22
We decided to mask-up for our first "live" movie experience since the pandemic began. We are six-months away from the bivalent booster and have not gotten any younger. In other words, we are still in the (triaged) vulnerable population. Ironically, my husband is more protected than I am having had a 2nd bout with Covid just before Thanksgiving, as reported here. Despite optimal exposure, I did not get it, which is a good sign of something—the miracle vaccines, my own health, perhaps. Jim was put on Paxlovid, did well, and now has a load of new antibodies.
Driving thirty minutes on dark, country roads, the GPS in and out of satellite connection, we did okay, but then got lost in the Hudson Valley Mall, a ghost mall, one empty store after another. I remembered that the movie complex was at the back somewhere next to what is now an abandoned SEARS, its sign stripped naked to a shadow. How desolate the mall looked, a dystopian remnant of a bustling hub. So much has changed since the pandemic began: where and how we work, where and how we shop, how we socialize, friends, family, co-workers, partners who have died either from Covid, or because of Covid.
The lobby of the complex—more than a dozen cinemas—was busy, the smell of popcorn welcoming. Our daughter and son-in-law arrived and we headed into the theater. I put on my mask, but no one else in our small party did, not even my husband, though we had discussed protocol. He's always been more casual than I, but he's also had Covid 2x, and now he was more protected, he reiterated. Was I being careful, overly fearful, or foolish? I suddenly felt hidden, outcast, more so when I realized that our assigned seats were next to unmasked strangers. We juggled our seating until I was at the end near the aisle and settled in to watch Avatar, a three-hour war movie masquerading as a fantasy. I decided to unmask, hope for the best, cross fingers, breathe in one direction only, and think about Charles Dickens' moral compass.
This post is dedicated to Ed's Jody and Rachel's Morgan.