I recently spoke at a gathering for medical freedom advocates in a little community center in the Hudson River Valley. I cherish this group of activists: they had steadfastly continued to gather throughout the depths of the "lockdown," that evil time in history — an evil time not yet behind us — and they kept on gathering in human spaces, undaunted. And by joining their relaxed pot-luck dinners around unidentifiable but delicious salads and chewy homemade breads, I was able to continue to remember what it meant to be part of a sane human community.
Children played — as normal — frolicking around, and speaking and laughing and breathing freely; not suffocating in masks like little zombies, or warned by terrified adults to keep from touching other human children. Dogs were petted. Neighbors spoke to one another at normal ranges, without fear or phobias. Bands played much-loved folk songs or cool little indie rock numbers they had written themselves, and no one, graceful or awkward, feared dancing. People sat on the house's steps shoulder to shoulder, in human warmth, and chatted over glasses of wine or homemade cider. No one asked anyone personal medical questions.
(While I believe that all decisions about how you live your life vis a vis an infectious disease are intensely personal, and I would never recommend to others to assume any specific level of risk or to pursue any specific strategy of risk reduction; I think it's worth noting, by the way, that to my knowledge, they had gone through the last two years without having lost a soul to COVID.)
Meanwhile, what had been human community outside of that little group, and outside other isolated normal communities — and outside of a handful of normal states in America — became more and more surreal, terrifying and unrecognizable.