In April when all of this COVID stuff started and people were sad about not being able to get together for Easter, I was like “HAHA TOO BAD, EASTER SUX ANYWAY!” But now that it’s November and one of my favorite (although admittedly problematic) holidays is here, my mind and heart are consumed by the Thanksgiving dilemma.
The Thanksgiving dilemma is this: do I or don’t I go home for Thanksgiving?
A simple decision, of course.
JUST KIDDING IT’S NOT SIMPLE AT ALL.
I spent the better part of last week in a complete and utter frenzy. I only referred to it as a “frenzy” so it sounded fun and quirky to my boyfriend. It was actually a full on, days long panic attack.
It was incredibly difficult to decide what to do, as there were many factors and considerations and sources of information.
I was lucky enough to go home a ton of times over the summer and into the fall, when the “numbers” we’ve all grown to obsess over were down and things were a little calmer. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to do this, you don’t even know. Okay I’ll tell you: it was heaven on earth to go home all those times. I love home!
Yes I still refer to my parents’ house in Milford, NJ as “home.” Sue me.
So in considering if I should go home for Thanksgiving, one of my thoughts was, “I’ve already been home so much and it’s fine!”
But like…is it fine?
Then I decided I was going to get some COVID tests. We have them for free in Jersey City and I think it’s a great thing! And they should be free everywhere! MAKE THEM FREE NOW.
On Thursday last week I got a test, and I was planning on getting one on Tuesday 11/24. That seemed like enough time! Everyone I know that has gone back to work in person, mostly people who work in TV, get COVID tests weekly and then they are cleared to work. In my mind if a negative test was good enough for them and a green light to work, then it was good enough for me and a green light to go home.
BUT IT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. As the days went by I saw more info graphics and articles shared and more memes about killing one’s grandma and I started to panic. I’m going to spare you and not share them here, but you can find them quickly if you look. Apparently even if you get a negative test it is NOT an “all clear” to go party with high risk people, like my grandma and uncle and my parents and my pregnant sister.
A few weeks ago it was my birthday, and I invited some friends to have outside drinks. One friend replied with, “We’re laying low until Thanksgiving so we can see my grandparents.” Of course I respected and honored their choice and would never mock it, but I did feel like it was unnecessarily cautious. The get together was on November 14th and Thanksgiving was so far away!
Narrator: Thanksgiving was NOT far away. Here comes the Thanksgiving dilemma!
In order for you to not catch COVID and not give it to other people, it’s recommended that you stay in your house and self quarantine for at least 14 days before getting together with people indoors. I think you can probably go for walks but you definitely can’t go out and have drinks, even if it’s outside. And you probably shouldn’t be going to workout classes, as I’ve been doing.
My friend was wise, and I totally blew it. Mostly because I’m bad at math.
The CDC actually says you should quarantine if you’ve been “in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.” But like, if you’re out in the world, HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW?!
So this realization coupled with the realization that a negative test isn’t a green light and compounded by all of the “you’re gonna kill your grandma” memes really set me over the edge. Like, pushed me to the brink of my very sanity. I was not well. In my mind. But like who is?
My main concern, as always, is NOT being sick myself, but in making someone else sick. OR, finding out I’m sick after I’ve been around people and then having to TELL THEM and have like a “SERIOUS CONVERSATION” about it. I want to avoid that at all costs. That sounds like my worst nightmare.
The fear of me getting it myself is far less than the fear of infecting someone else. THAT is the shit that keeps me up at night. And always has.
Maybe I shouldn’t bring this up but I guess I will for what I think is a valuable comparison: I say “always has” because when I was single and dating and out in the world or whatever there was always the specter of STDs lurking in the background. And you had to have “the conversation.” And it was sickening and annoying.
(Side note: Don’t even get me started on how STDs are stigmatized and pretty much social suicide in our society for no good reason other than Puritanism and sex shaming and THE PATRIARCHY and if you get a cold or something and give it to someone there isn’t ANY social stigma and that doesn’t seem right. Like in both versions you got sick and someone else got sick from you. Either be okay with it or don’t be okay with it but please choose to give people a hard time about both illnesses equally if that’s what you’re gonna do. But that’s for another time.)
And if we didn’t have “the conversation” it would still be hanging over me, stressing me out, making me feel weird, causing me many sleepless nights. I really let the rumination get to that level. It added to my obsession with going to the doctor. I got so many tests and so frequently that my insurance company had to ask WTF was wrong with me. It was in a letter, I threw it out.
What I’m saying is, if you don’t have sex you won’t get STDs. It’s that simple. Of course there are ways to protect yourself AND YOU SHOULD but the risk is always there. But with COVID, there’s no way to truly get away from it if you’re just trying to live your life at a very basic level. There’s not a specific activity you can identify that’s going to give it to you. You know what is a higher risk and a lower risk, but it’s still everywhere and you don’t even have to touch anyone to be exposed to it.
Like, I just want to go outside, go to workout class, drink a beer with pals. I’ll wear the mask, I’ll do the sanitizer, I’ll stay away from people. AND I DO. But it’s still not 100% safe unless you hide in your house for the ordained amount of time and that’s just the way it is.
Now that COVID is a part of life it’s often necessary to have “the conversation” with the people around you. Like, “Have you been outside? Have you been inside? Have you taken off your mask? Did you go to an indoor party? Have you been tested? WHEN WAS YOUR LAST TEST?“
I find “the conversation” just as terrifying and annoying in a COVID context as an STD context. I will DO IT but I will not LIKE IT. Beyond just collecting the facts, in subtext it calls into question so many abstract, subjective things. Gray area things, like your “morality.”
Who is to say what is actually “moral”?! Perception is reality! I hope I’ve made it clear that I don’t care what anyone thinks and I never have and never will. No one can tell me what to do or judge/shame me into doing or not doing something. I cannot be stopped. But in this case, I was a little worried. Maybe not so much because I cared about people’s opinions, but more because it was important to me to be seen as a good example and someone who believes in science and is responsible. I was concerned about the COMMUNITY OVERALL AND MY CONTRIBUTION TO IT.
Also there’s no way I could have happily shared a Thanksgiving with my family on social media and avoided SOME type of persecution. And if it’s not on Instagram it didn’t happen so put that in your pipe and smoke it.
And so it went, for days on end, back and forth in my mind. Agonizing and struggling over the decision. Afraid to talk to any of my friends about it because if they had an opinion one way or another I felt it would stress me out more.
In the end, my mom made the call and ended the Thanksgiving dilemma. She was also going back and forth, but I think she felt like someone needed to make a decision, so she did. AND I AM SO GRATEFUL.
I REALLY COULD NOT HANDLE IT ANOTHER SECOND.
My mom graciously volunteered that she would still make the food and my dad would come drop it off. If that is not the most mom thing ever, I don’t know what is. But I DO know that I am super excited to eat the food!
Of course it won’t be the same, eating the food alone in my apartment with my boyfriend. But I guess it’s the best I can ask for this year. I think it’s okay to say that I’m still disappointed. Because I am. I’m not going to pretend that it was easy and I’m also not going to pretend that I feel 100% okay about this choice.
But a choice was made and I’m going with it. And I’ll just drink a ton of Irish coffees and mimosas tomorrow AS IS TRADITION and won’t let it make me too sad.
AND I won’t have to watch football because my dad won’t be in charge of MY TV. Yesssssss.
Please know that I support any of your Thanksgiving choices…I think. I know it was a really hard decision for me and it took days to really make peace with it. The Thanksgiving dilemma was easy for no one. So my heart goes out to you, whatever you and your family have decided.
Happy Thanksgiving, stay happy and healthy. I’ll delve into the issue of whether or not I want to eat turkey next year. Because it’s a big one.