Initiation

Throughout time, societies have held rites of passage to acknowledge passages into life stages or into service to the tribe or becoming a spiritual leader. In general, they have a community gathering, some kind of a ritual that may or may not involve mood altering substances or pain, and then emerging on the other side into the new role in the community.

Maybe I’m making too much of it, but it felt kind of like that when I had my COVID vaccine this past Thursday. The Johnson and Johnson one-and-done. Since I am the queen of all side effects (Hubby is too much the gentleman to tell you about the time I was on Vicodan after a procedure and it made me think that Jerry Springer explained everything, so I will), it was my vaccine of preference.

I arrived at the site about a half hour early. The health department had set up camp in an office building recently purchased as the new city hall. Park, follow the lines around the building. Follow the person directing foot traffic with her clipboard. “If you’re here for your second shot, please go to the second floor. First shot people, this way. You’re getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine today!”

My relief and joy over finally getting the vaccine of my choice combined with everyone else’s made it feel a margarita machine and Lady Gaga playlist away from a party as the line snaked towards the check in station.

Show ID and email with QR code. Go this way. Go that way. Take a seat at the station with nurse in the bright purple top. Scan the code again; verify identity; swab arm, and poke! All done; here’s your card. Wait in your car for 15 minutes to make sure you don’t have a reaction and have a great day.

My arm felt tingly, but it was OK. I made phone calls, went home, ordered and picked up lunch from a local takeout place to celebrate.

The side effects crept up that afternoon. Mostly fatigue, a nagging slight headache. Later that night, I did have some minor chills. Friday I was fatigued and headachy, but it started dissipating late afternoon.

I slept the sleep of the just, the dead, or the just plain dead last night. Oakley began pacing and dramatically flopping onto the floor about 6:30 to let me know that it was breakfast o’clock, otherwise I would have slept longer.

And now I hang out in the liminal space while the vaccine does its job in the next two weeks. I will be protected, but will not be reckless–I’ll continue to to keep my distance from the maskless wonders and will mask up until Dr. Fauci says otherwise. I will continue to wash my hands like Lady Macbeth. And keep social distance.

But in two weeks, barring another surge, I can get my hair cut. I can go back to in-person yoga. I can go to the store without wondering if I’m going to die from it, even if I go directly after the time reserved for seniors and special concern shoppers.

I didn’t glean any insights from the dance with the side effects, but I do know that it will be great to mask up and join the world at large. And that it should never be taken for granted again.