What are you bringing back

I have flown across the country. Six hours on a plane with all the masks in my collection and new ones, industrial strength ones that increased my chances of avoiding droplets of any size, vapors, and oxygen. I had to remove a few to survive the flight. I couldn’t believe people risked their life for food and water. “Have you no patience, woman”, I shouted at the little girl next to me. She couldn’t hear me. It is never right for strangers to yell at small children, so I kept the volume of my mouth on mute.

I have no doubt, I am taking a risk. I told myself that I am moving from one highly vaccinated place to another, that the plane ride roundtrip, is the same as 6 bus rides back and forth to the job I had this summer. I knew that I would always wear a mask, that on my arrival I would only linger in rooms with wide open windows. I would eat at a restaurant, only if the seating was outside and each table, far away from another. I could get lucky and get home without the virus. Which would also mean that I was lucky not to potentially pass it on to whomever was in my path from the point that it slung its rock into my cellular structure.

I suppose the decision is like the one a doctor makes. Does the benefit outweigh all that. Except, not. When a doctor makes that decision, it is (nearly exclusively) about you. When I made the decision, it was about everybody that I might come into contact with and then, only about me, whether I chose to accept that or not. The impact of my decision could have been, could be way beyond my own skin. So there is that. This has not been an easy two years.

While I was here, I bought all the vegetables that my hands could carry. I saw stuff I had only read about. Tiny melons that tasted a bit like kombucha. Those (also tiny) butternuts, called Honeynuts, that that guy, Dan Barber, from Blue Hill figured out with a farmer, Michael Mazourek. I almost had a coronary I was so excited, when I saw those. “HOLY TOLEDO,” I said,”Is that a Honeynut? Is that really a Honeynut?” It can be embarrassing being me. I didn’t get that excited when it was just me and Alec Baldwin in an elevator.

I cooked for my girlfriend, whom I hadn’t seen since high school. I cooked for my niece and her new baby. I baked a caramelized prune plum tart with cabernet grapes that were growing on a single vine outside her kitchen window, under a lemon tree, for my sister. Her 8 year old daughter said, “I wish there were more. I loved it.” Visiting them restored me. It gave me joy. It definitely slung its rock into my cellular structure.

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