“How do we do it?” or “Who’s Going to Ruin it for Everyone?”

Last night, a pensive version of myself only had questions for the blog. After thinking about my uncertainties, the professor in me feels that I should at least try to offer answers (or at least points of discussion). I will address each numbered question, one post at a time. Tonight, it’s about how we start to venture out in public.

When we inevitably reenter the public sphere (as I assume everyone is planning to do at some point), it will be like a public swimming pool at the beginning of a season.

A splash from August 2018

Some people will stay home until the weather warms up. Of those who decide to head to the pool, many will stay wrapped in towels on the deck. A few people will kick off their flip flops and cannonball in, not caring if they splash the dry onlookers.

But most people will proceed rather cautiously for that first dip, testing the temp by dangling toes in the water. Looking around, these individuals seek the comfort of others also venturing into the pool. “You go first!” One yells. “No, you!” A friend replies. The two agree to go on three and eventually jump in.

As with getting in the pool, we will (or already have) seek the confirmation that our friends and family are on the same page as we are in beginning to enter the public space of this new reality. If they are not, likely they won’t be invited or consulted about the next step in undoing isolation.

Where can we go and should we are two different questions. Because there are no clear right answers, I won’t offer false advice about what is “safe.” I do, however, find Dr. Erin Bromage’s explanation about risk particularly helpful. What I can say is that the decision of where to go and when is a personal one. It’s okay if you feel anxious and don’t know what to do. At the same time, we shouldn’t be rushing out to party like it’s Y2K or that COVID-19 has been eradicated.

Like the pool, folks clearly have different opinions of when and how to do this. Unfortunately, one lesson I learned from my lifeguarding days is that crowded water often leads to contamination, quickly shutting down the facility. In other words, if most people abandon social distancing measures and refuse to wear masks, stay at home orders will soon resume.