Opinion: Outside In

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What Will You Carry Forward?

By David Weinstein

We went out for a burger and a beer with friends last night. We met at a place in Newport to avoid the traffic mess in Laguna Beach from the Caltrans culvert project. This is the first time we’d been out with a group since COVID-19 shut down the country. The place was jammed. You would’ve thought it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The earlier diners were reticent to leave. They wanted to stay on to talk and laugh. But new diners kept showing up, so, by the time we arrived the restaurant was way over allowable capacity. No one seemed to care. We stayed over two hours. I felt a bit uncomfortable at first, but after a few beers, the feeling disappeared. In fact, it was enjoyable to be among a crowd of people again. Our conversation was light and fun, and it made me think about how much I’d missed this during the prior year.

Driving home, Ann and I unpacked the events of the night. We decided it was a milestone. It was not an easy year for us, much worse for some we knew, but we had made it through.  Most of my difficulties were self-inflicted. I just had trouble adjusting to all the protocols. I kept absent-mindedly exposing myself to the virus. Each time I would have to get a test and await the results before I was allowed reentry back into the house. One time the results were delayed so I took my VW camper and spent the night at Crystal Cove Campground. I got to watch a fiery sun set into the Pacific Ocean. An unexpected pleasure in the midst of an epidemic.

Before retiring to bed, I thought about the things I had learned from this pandemic and would like to carry forward. And I thought about the things I will be glad to leave behind now that an end to this ordeal is in sight.

I am a list-maker, so, I will share my partial list with you. And I hope this is the last time I write about this virus and its impacts.

Here are a few things on my list I’m glad to be done with:

  • My “Covid Casual” Fashion Collection – old, branded T-shirts, ragged blue jeans, quick-dry cargo shorts with the pockets worn through, memory foam Skecher shoes where the memory is as degraded as mine.
  • Long Hair – I thought it would make me look younger and cover my bald spot. It actually made me look like a muskrat had taken up residence on my head.
  • Unkept facial hair – It’s the style, so, either through fatuity or sloth, I let mine grow. I wound up looking like a bedraggled, Civil War reenactor who had fallen on hard times.
  • Animosity and anger towards those who didn’t share my opinions and beliefs. Better to work toward positive change rather than criticize and complain.
  • The area in the house I turned into a combo Zoom office and nest—My Fortress of Solitude. Ann is glad to reclaim her space.

Here are a few things I would like to carry forward:

  • Kindness, spoken and expressed. It is way more important than toilet paper in a crisis.
  • An appreciation for the outdoors as a refuge in troubled times.
  • A recognition that just because someone isn’t highly paid does not mean they aren’t critically important. Bless them for their help.
  • Gratitude for the support of family and friends when you need a cheerleader, or just someone to lend a sympathetic ear.
  • And though, at times during this pandemic, she seemed more than eager to help me identify my shortcomings, Thankfulness for a truly steadfast partner.

My dad always said, “You play the hand you’re dealt.” So, despite some stumbling and muddling, with a few good people to lean on when we bent, and an occasional needed attitude adjustment, we made it through. I hope you did too.

David Weinstein lives in Newport Beach with his steadfast partner Ann, is fully vaccinated, and looking forward to seeing y’all out and about.

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