Expanding Outwards

I went out yesterday for the first time since March 13th.

It was terrifying. It was also necessary,

I’ve now read a couple of articles from experts — one from CNN, one from PBS — about creating quarantine pods or “quaranteams,” expanded social circles during the time of quarantine. Essentially, if everyone is amenable, you all have about the same level of casual exposure, you all agree to socially interact with only the selected members of your “pod,” it might be time to expand your social circle to include a small group (under ten individuals total) outside your immediate family.

I’m still not sure I’m a hundred percent on that, though I want to be. My parents and the people in their house total seven, and all of them have about the same risk level as us (one person working less than 40 hours a week outside the house in a fairly isolated environment, with mask; grocery runs at supermarkets enforcing COVID restrictions; no other social contact), and experts say that’s a pretty low risk situation.

But it’s not a “no risk” situation.

But literally going outside is, at this point, not a “no risk” situation. So what do I do?

We went to visit my folks. All of us wore masks and maintained social distance (only exceptions are when my mom handed me a bag of stuff I left at her house, and once or twice when Bear reached out to hand her a flower he had just picked from her yard). It was nice; we all sat outside and the weather was absolutely gorgeous (65 and sunny), and seeing them in person, even though we couldn’t sit together, was a lot different than talking to them via Facebook video or on the phone. It was a good hour or so, and we got to talk and take in some air.

When it was time to go, it hurt my son to not be able to hug my mom, but he’s heard enough about quarantine and COVID lately that he got it, even though he wasn’t happy.

I want to expand our pod to include my family, I really do. I want my son to be able to hug his grandparents, I want to sit with my mom while we watch true crime shows, I want to unbox a brand new Hunt a Killer box face-to-face with my brother. I want my son to be able to spend a night at grandma’s while his dad and I get some chores done and have a quiet evening. I have been trying to listen and adhere to everything the experts say — I always wear a mask; we only shop every two weeks and we literally wash and/or unbox all our groceries as soon as Andy brings them home; whenever Andy comes home from work or shopping, he strips in the basement, and immediately showers — and now, experts are saying this might be a viable step. This might be something we can do while still staying safe, and it could do worlds of good for everyone’s mental health, to finally have some social interaction after months of isolation.

So why can’t I do it? Why am I so, so afraid?

(I know why I’m afraid. It’s a pandemic, and I have an anxiety disorder. But I have a lot of friends with anxiety, and several of them have already taken this step. I want to. I want to so, so badly).

This isn’t a now or never situation, I know. Maybe I’ll feel different in a week or two, or a month. But for now, as much as I want to, I still have to keep my distance.

But we’ll visit again next week, at the very least. Seeing them was good. Being in the air was good.

And I know someday things will be good again.

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