Riding the Pandemic Rollercoaster

Going Down . . .

I should have found some wood to knock on when I penned my July 2021 post, “As the world begins to open up, Frank and I will carefully venture back out, chronicling our adventures in our next chapter, Waltzing Wanderers 5.

July-August, 2021: Armed with a second vaccine dose, Frank and I gingerly, and then more confidently, rejoin society — outings and visits with family and friends, cooking/dinner parties, a belated wedding celebration, a building get-together, even a weeklong trip to New York City.

Trip to New York City, September 2021

Going Up . . .

Fall 2021: End of summer, end of party. The Delta variant results in a substantial spike in Covid cases and deaths. Wisconsin faces its largest wave of patients requiring intensive care since 2020 as millions of residents remain unvaccinated.

In Washington DC, “695,000 Flags—and Counting” memorializes the Americans who have died of Covid-19. Worldwide deaths number 4.8 million. (September 30, 2021)

A vaccine booster and the continuous barrage of misinformation broaden the country’s politicized chasm between vaxxed/unvaxxed and masked/unmasked. Public events take place but many now come with a caveat: No mask? No proof of vaccination? No entrance.

After going virtual for a year, “Open Doors Milwaukee” is open for business — as long as you’re vaxxed and masked.
Interlochen School for the Arts (Traverse City, MI) re-opened their campus for public performances — as long as audience members were masked and vaxxed. Cousin Faye and I took the ferry across Lake Michigan to see Mary Rose’s daughter Zara perform.

The unvaccinated make up the majority of Delta’s severely ill patients and deaths but there are also some “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated. As infection numbers climb, many who are vaxxed return to more mindful habits. Potential activities are vetted based on risk to themselves and others.

I was super excited to have access to “Field of Dreams” tickets after the once-in-lifetime baseball game was cancelled in 2020. But then we carefully considered the risk of being around so many people in the midst of a pandemic. Sorry, no.
The Summer Olympics (cancelled in 2020) are belatedly held in Tokyo sans spectators.

Schools, businesses and international borders open and close based on infection count fluctuation. Everyone wants the pandemic to be over but, ironically, masking and vaxxing mandates continue to be vehemently challenged.

Keeping it small

The holidays presented their own dilemma. In 2020, there wasn’t an option — no in-person holiday get-togethers. This year wasn’t as clear-cut based on the availability of vaccinations and test kits and countless self-proclaimed experts. The yearning to spend time with loved ones and honor family traditions, however, had to be weighed against the risk of exposure to an extremely contagious variant. Our personal choice was to stick with small gatherings of vaxxed family and friends.

We were overjoyed to have Nick and Andy come back for Thanksgiving along with their ladies.
Christmas morning had Frank and I home alone. I taped Midnight Mass and was shocked to see all the empty pews. We did TV mass and had a virtual visit with Nick and Andy before heading over to Mom and Dad’s for a dinner.

Groundhog Day

On March 10th, Frank and I mark two years in what seems like a never-ending loop of “Groundhog Day.” Aside from those two quick trips to Chattanooga and NYC, we’ve pretty much remained here in Milwaukee.

The pandemic froze our travel plans and fostered nesting in our cozy apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. We’ve created a home and have decided to keep it as a base when we return to travel. In a few ways, life is getting back to some sense of normalcy. Frank is swimming at the JCC and attends the less crowded weekday masses — and we do make a point to catch Sunday TV mass when we know the reader!

And down again?

Once again, positive test numbers and covid-related deaths seem to be in decline. Dare we hope we are nearing the end? Much of the news, including concert and festival announcements make it sound like that’s the case.

And the Busalacchis definitely have something to look forward to later this year!

Fingers are crossed! In the meantime, I will continue to write, play Wordle, research our family history and map out future adventures! Stay well.