A man looks at his phone while walking a dog, a zig zag of unawareness. I hopscotch through the street guessing his next step. "Pick a side", I think loudly. I look around for an opening with no humans. I take my mask off one ear to breathe deeply, then quickly wrap the ear strap back around my ear. I am tired of not walking with my mouth naked and haphazardly ajar, for no other reason than it is how things used to be. I ponder when breathing unencumbered will be safe again. I am frustrated with these repeated thoughts, but it is not about me. It is about all of us working together for the wellness of humanity. I know this needed wellness extends way beyond simply wearing a mask.
I walk past an apartment building where two men are chatting while smoking cigarettes. One yells to me, "Great day, isn't it?!" I yell back, "I guess as great as it can be!" I feel bad for my lack of enthusiasm when his energy is upbeat. He yells back, "It's always great when you have rock stars!" I am not sure what this means, but picture myself at a rock concert, standing right next to the stage. The men continue chatting and I walk on.
I pass a honeysuckle vine again. This plant, I can smell through my mask. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. My eyes well up, but I do not let the tears drop. I let the plant signal a feeling of known comfort and continue on, finding courage in the perplexing present.