The light burns my retinas, as I step out from the gloom that has been 18 months of a global pandemic. I squint against the glare of freedom and safety. Yet I am hesitant to embrace, my arms hang stiffly by my side and my mask dangles from my ears, I am a deer caught in the headlights of something that feels foreign and unreal.
What do you mean I can hug you? WHAT I can press my lips to your cheek and leave my mark upon you? Can I? Do you want me to? Do I want to? Can you give me Covid (oh wait I have had it, can I get it again?, but can I?).
When you step forward, mask less, arms stretched wide and pull me to you, the warmth feels seductive, but I repel against you, my body recoils, it feels wrong to be close, but oh how I need that human contact again. I crave it and hate it in equal measures. I feel unprotected, vulnerable, foreign, exposed, like life can see me naked and is attacking each cell hard and fast.
My anxiety is currently high, I am on edge, my breathing is out of synch, I feel raw, I teeter on the edge of a panic attack. I hold my mask tight in my hand and breathe, I lung breathe, belly breathe, I breathe fast, I breathe slow, I am mask less. I can breathe, the air is fresh, and does not smell of my washing detergent. I can smell spring, another persons skin, flowers, wet grass, rain rolling in, I can inhale and exhale.
Hand hold, hug, kiss, stand indoors with friends, I am alive, I can be, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel so naked. Covid was my excuse to step back, to not be, to be alone and now I have to be sociable, tangible and touchable…….
I am exposed……….
The end is nigh – take that how you need!