I’m getting to love my masks.
Well, maybe love is too strong a word. But I do like them and the more time I spend with them and think about them I like them even more.
They’re sort of like the boy or girl you meet and begin to date that you feel just fine about and then, a year later, find that you’re married to.
It’s been my experience that relationships that begin too fiery wind up scorching you permanently in uncomfortable places. Or at the very least, they wind up betraying you.
It’s far better to start out slow or even ambivalent and then let the feelings build. It might not always amount to something substantial but when it does you realize that it gives you those things you are truly looking for.
I hate to reference Dr. Phil, who I have only seen on TV a handful of times and is a Trump voting Republican. But years ago I once heard him refer to those things as a soft place to land.
Well, even a broken clock is right twice a day so in this case I have to agree with him. The slow, kind build that sort of sneaks up on you and makes you feel safe and protected is almost always the way to go.
These days especially, you have to play the long game.
Which brings us back to masks.
I didn’t like my masks at first. They were too confining, especially for someone like myself who wears glasses. I’d go outside and they’d fog my glasses up. I’d come back inside and they’d need to be either washed or discarded. I go in and out of the house too many times and they’d be easy to forget, or rather impossible to remember.
That is, until they weren’t.
I think what began to turn the corner for me were the statistics. Now that over THREE MILLION AMERICANS are infected with COVID-19 and I find myself suddenly living in one of the hottest hotspot COVID states and cities (Note: California and Los Angeles), my masks began to remind me of my always devoted and loving husband.
He was one of the first guys I ever dated that I finally realized I could rely on implicitly. It took me awhile and I put him through a lot of tests and turbulence and, well bitching and complaining and worse, but no matter what I did he was there.
And not only was he there but I found I could rely on him to protect me when things went badly.
Even better, I got a lot of enjoyment from him. He was fun and he didn’t take himself too seriously.
Not to compare my husband to a mask but once wearing the latter became the one constant ALL TRAINED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS recommended could protect you from coronavirus disease (Note: And possible DEATH, not even something a husband can do) I began to grow a similar appreciation for my masks – each and every one of them.
Yes unlike the way I am with my husband, we are not monogamous.
Still, each of them is loyal, ALWAYS does the job, never complains and, in fact, is amusing, resourceful and AVAILABLE whenever I need IT.
For reliability I have the cloth ones in various colors and designs. There is the black one, the military green one and even the red one (Note: The latter only on special occasions).
The patterned ones make me particularly happy. My go to is the gray and white crisscross design, which reminds me not to take myself too seriously and seems to make people smile when they pass me by on the street (Note: Of course, I can’t know this for sure since the only people I look in the eye outside my own home are wearing their own mask).
I am also partial to the one emblazoned with part of the title of an old noir movie I never heard of. A friend who makes them and donates the proceeds of the sales for PPE equipment to doctors and nurses sent it to me from the east and, truly, they’re genius – and durable. I’ve washed it 25 times already and it still hasn’t lost its elasticity. (Note: Which is more than I can say for myself these days).
Early on in the pandemic, when there were near ZERO masks available, I bought a dozen plain white ones which tie behind your neck from a local linens company (Note: Okay, Matteo). I am still particularly devoted to them, especially when I wear white sneakers (Note: Hey, I’m gay and I like to match) because they, in particular, got me through truly tough times early on.
I also have two N-95 masks in white that I and my husband only wear when going into particularly dangerous territory (Note: Like a medical building), presents again sent to me from another dear east coast friend who knew our mask supply was near nil some months ago. Each time I wear it I think of him, caring soul that he is, and feel doubly safe.
I saved the dozens of blue disposal masks for last because, well, these are the ones that the majority of people I’ve seen walking around town wear. Not only are they easy to use (Note: Just slap it on, put the strings behind your ears and pull at the paper cloth from both ends to quickly to cover your nose and mouth) but they are the ones that demand the least maintenance. Not to sound callous, but they’re like the one-night stand of face coverings. Once you’re done with them you can literally throw them away and never deal with them again.
Nevertheless, if I had to choose I’d say these blues ones are probably my favorite because, while wearing them, I feel most connected to the outside world. When I have one on and then see its twin on the face of one of my fellow humans it reminds me that not only am I not alone but that we are all in this together.
It also makes me think, perhaps naively, that we can all live to fight another day.
Or maybe even not fight, just live.