It’s been a hard day. A really hard one. I thought I had a handle on everything. I’ve been managing to be productive and stay healthy. But apparently I’ve been pushing down some stress — because my body starts to freak out in that way it only does when I’ve been anxious for some time but good at ignoring it consciously.
“I’m taking you on a date,” you say.
“Oh yeah?” I say.
After we pack a bag with seltzer, hand sanitizer, and my backup cell battery bank (in case the charging port in our car stops working for some reason, it never has but you never know — and we’re somewhere unfamiliar and need to navigate home or break down and need to call a tow truck), we mask up and head to the car.
This routine reminds me of when we go camping. We have a lot of weird stuff we’ll probably need — and a bunch we probably won’t. But we bring it anyway. And we check and double check.
We probably won’t even need the masks — but if we want to get out and walk around, you say, this way we don’t have to even think. It’s always better to put on the mask in our home and take it off there, since it’s a viral “cold zone,” our known environment.
You drive me all over town looking at holiday lights. There are a couple of large features — fixtures of the area — where certain parks and towns have set up something special. We laugh as we drive by the first one — since the line of cars extends for blocks.
“I hope you’re not too disappointed,” you say.
“Of course not,” I say. “I’d nope out, too.”
“I tried to set expectations before we left,” you say. “To let you know that it wasn’t a sure thing.”
“I know,” I say. “You did a good job.”
I can’t tell for sure if you’re smiling behind your mask — for obvious reasons — but your eyes are. So you probably are.
We drive for a while, pointing out incidental smaller light displays that have been set up at a church, some housing developments. We pull up to our second show. It’s a bit smaller. We have to take a weird way in, but we get to see it.
And it’s glorious. I take a bunch of random pictures on my cell phone. I assume they’ll all turn out crummy — but shockingly they don’t. Some of them are pretty good.
We drive a bit further, looping along streets where friends live. We haven’t seen them in person for the better part of a year — but they have been sharing pictures of their holiday lights in private chats, so we figure we might as well drive by and see those displays in person.
Finally, we head home, demask, wash our hands.
You light a fire in the fireplace. Still artificial logs (they burn a lot cleaner and make more sense in our situation), but these are the kind that crackle and pop.
You make us cocktails. We sit by the fire. One of our cats saunters up and plops down in between us.
It’s been a cold day at the end of a difficult week and difficult months. But at the moment, I’m warm in all the right ways.