A year ago, I wrote about Love in the Time of Coronavirus. This may seem like a bookend to that post, but it’s more like a midpoint reality check.
At first, we weren’t that frightened. But as infections and deaths continued to spiral upward, we became frightened indeed. Our digital devices were the only “persons” we felt safe being intimate with.
Then the vaccinations began.
The first time I walked into a supermarket without a mask, even though I was “fully-vaxxed,” I felt naked. But the second time I felt like I was in my underwear. And the third time, well, you get it. Our collective PTSD is beginning to fade. And well it should—we need human contact to be fully human.
In these early days of the Post-COVID Era, i.e. the Not-Really-Over-Yet Era, we still need to practice a little practical fear, for the sake of others if not for ourselves. Un-vaccinated people infecting other un-vaccinated people could sustain this pandemic for years to come.
There’ve always been “kissing diseases.” When “mono” struck, we quarantined ourselves until the symptoms passed. When “herpes, the love bug” blistered our lips, we switched to deep talks and saved the lip-locking until we were safely kissable again. Then AIDS arrived, and we got a taste of something far more devastating. Suddenly, for many, true love meant not being intimate.
And now? Dating sites like OK Cupid are starting to offer a “fully vaccinated” filter, a way of saying, “I won’t infect you,” and by not checking the box, a way of responsibly admitting, “I could infect you.” Because real love has always been about putting others before ourselves, about delaying gratification. As much as the world has changed since the COVID Era began…
The nature of love has not.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” ~William Shakespeare