• Laura

Pandemic Wind-Down: Game Instructions

  1. Obsessively track vaccine information. Sign up for all “leftover dose” opportunities to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Abandon cooking dinner when you get a phone call with an open slot. Cry in the parking lot afterwards. Move forward five spaces.

  2. Pencil in your second dose date. Despair when you can’t find any available appointments. Move back one space.

  3. Move forward one space when you get the email confirming your second dose appointment.

  4. Drive an hour for the appointment. Clutch your vaccine card like a prize. Move forward two spaces

  5. Debate efficacy of vaccine at outdoor Easter service thirteen days post second dose. Lose a turn.

  6. Decide to go, but bring your own chairs and sound like a broken record reminding your children to keep their masks on and keep their distance. Move forward one space.

  7. Go into Target for the first time in over a year, excited to browse, but get overwhelmed by the line. Abandon your dollar spot finds and flee to your car. Slather on hand sanitizer, take deep breaths, and move back two spaces.

  8. Tell your husband you need a day alone. Sit outside at your favorite coffee shop, get a haircut and a pedicure, browse the local bookstore. Move forward three spaces.

  9. Realize how long it’s been since your children had non-virtual social interaction. Question all your pandemic decisions. Move back two spaces.

  10. Take your kids to a playground and observe their excitement at seeing other children in person. Move forward one space.

  11. Remove children from the playground because coughing, unmasked children don’t understand personal space. Move back two spaces but buy your children donuts.

  12. Move back one space when your toddler wakes up with a fever a few days after an aquarium visit during your much-anticipated beach trip.

  13. Sit in your car at the doctors drive-through clinic, nervously waiting for a nurse to tell you your toddlers COVID test result. Lose a turn.

  14. Test result: negative. Move forward two spaces.

  15. Obsessively read updated CDC regulations. Wonder when you became so anxious, when you went from “it’s fine, it’s building up their immune system,” to Cloroxing your groceries for six months. Debate incessantly, paralyzed by indecision. Move back one space and lose a turn.

  16. Decide to let your children unmask outside. Move forward one space.

  17. Spend an afternoon socializing at the pool. Move forward another space.

  18. Realize the social interaction left you so exhausted you can barely get the kids to bed. Fall asleep before 8:30. Move back one space.

  19. Finish virtual school. Celebrate with silly string in the backyard and move forward three spaces.

  20. Hide behind your sunglasses as you shoot silent daggers at the mother of a child that is uncontrollably hacking from the moment they walk into the pool. Attempt to make sure your children keep their distance. Move back one space.

  21. Leave your children in the care of someone other than yourself or your husband for the first time in fifteen months and go on a date. Move forward two spaces.

  22. Walk into the brewery. Freeze in place when you see that no one is wearing a mask. Hurry outside to find a table and leave your husband to handle the ordering. Move back one space.

  23. Drive home, refreshed from time away. You’ve successfully completed Level 1 of Pandemic Wind-Down.

This post was written during an Exhale Creativity workshop: The Art of the Microessay taught by Sonya Spillmann.

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