Shelter in place has provided the boundaries of life for many of us –and it’s been more than a year of it. We are thrilled that our vaccinations and lower Covid rates are opening the world up. It feels like a strange new world, doesn’t it?

So when a friend said she was struggling with how to reintegrate into a new, more open life post-vaccination, I get her anxiety. It’s not like we have our old lives back all of a sudden. No, for those of us who think it through, this “new” life will retain some of the aspects of shelter in place. And while everyone is going to have to figure that out for themselves, those of us who are erring on the side of caution are likely to consider these factors:

Masks are part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

This is not such a big deal for me, as I started masking on all flights at least six years ago, after a guy behind me on a flight to Sicily hacked and coughed his way across the world and I ended up with pneumonia. On vacation. In Sicily. After that, I always masked. That will continue on flights and for me it will continue in public. Vaccinations aren’t going to protect us from Covid. I am going to be conservative about going maskless.

Eating indoors still makes me nervous. Most indoor settings make me nervous.

And probably will, for a long time. I am not visiting a crowded indoor pub or restaurant. I’ll prefer to eat outdoors and at non-prime times. Even if I liked theme parks, which I don’t, I wouldn’t visit one for a million bucks. Not that interested in a movie theatre or any other group event just yet. And if I ever go back, it will be with mask.

Watching the rest of the world.

Travel is our greatest joy, our biggest expense and the thing we most look forward to every year. But. New day.

The earliest we’re considering going back to overseas travel is 2023–that’s right, two years from now– and we will be very cautious in assessing the safety of any trip. European cases are surging now with many more people dying than before (as I write this in mid March).And the US is also seeing some hotspots as places open up too early.

So we’re not running off to Europe any time soon. Nor will we find ourselves in Florida or Texas or any other state or region (Hello, southern California) that has been imprudent in their Covid restrictions.

Maui is a must, as we stay in our friends’ beautiful place, we know the area, usually do a lot at the property itself, and do not need to take risks.

Taking care of ourselves

We fly masked, gloved and shielded or goggled and minimizing food and drink, at our doctor’s recommendation. I have no problem with that. That’s how I got to Rochester last summer and I was ok with it. And most important: safe. I don’t really much care if people think I look crazy. That’s their problem.

Cruising still gives me the shivers but I do want to see the Norwegian fjords, a cruise I have had to cancel twice already. And I do want to go back to Egypt with an archeologist on her specialty cruise. But I’m watchful. We love to cruise. BUT.  A  cruise is a great incubation ground for viruses.

This year we’re confining our travel to the Bay area and our second home in Rochester, NY, where we can control our exposure. In ’22 , Maui is on the books and we’re talking about Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and our second home. That should give us enough time–two years! — to assess the risk of overseas travel and the many new variants I’m sure we will know about.

Watching what our friends do

We have many younger friends and they are more eager to be out and about, counting on their strong immune systems and vaccinations, even if they get Covid. I am not excited about being in their company if they are not taking precautions. They can still carry the disease. In fact, I won’t be in anyone’s company who is not prudent about exposure. Why should I take the risk?

Inexplicably, some friends our age also act as though they have license to go back to how it was. Umm, not yet. We’ll make our decisions about what we do and with whom after careful observation.

For now, I am thrilled to have several get-togethers on the books with vaccinated friends. I’m going down to the Monterey peninsula for a day. I’m having friends in my backyard and I’m going to their backyard. AND I’ve got a morning at the De Young Museum in San Francisco planned with my bestie. A visit to a favorite local wine tasting room. These kind of wonderful gatherings with vaccinated friends are the way this year will play out: slowly reintegrating ourselves into a more open world and celebrating the time after shelter in place. And watching. Assessing. Taking baby steps. And deciding how we will go forward in the future based on that.

How about you? How are you going to re-integrate into this new world?

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