I’ve planned a trip and will be boarding a plane for the first time since early January 2020. I have mixed feelings about it. Planning was exciting. I’d nearly forgotten how much I love scrolling through listings on Airbnb, analyzing maps to determine the part of a city to stay in, looking for fun things to do (good food, city walks, modern art museums). All of this felt like sitting down for coffee with an old friend. Picking up where I left off, as if no time had passed.
But time has passed. The world is different now and in the days since booking this trip I’ve had loads of other thoughts: Is it safe? Am I putting other people I’m around at risk? Should I be reserving travel for absolutely necessary things? Does my 18th anniversary count as an absolutely necessary thing? If now isn’t the right time to travel, when is? This person I know has been travelling and I respect their judgement. This other person I know would never think of setting foot on a plane and I also respect their judgement.
It’s an endless loop, really. The whole last year and a half has been. We’re dealing with something new. There aren’t clear answers which leads to a lot of mental juggling. I often think about how much energy I’ve spent on thinking through things around the safety of seeing family, whether to keep dental appointments, when it feels safe to get a haircut, or take a ride share.
So many times in conversions both serious and casual I’ve found myself saying, “it’s just a lot.” Which as a writer, strikes me as such a terribly unspecific phrase. What constitutes a lot? How much is a lot? What does a lot really even mean? Which I think is the point– it’s the most ambiguous of phrases for the most ambiguous of times.
When the date on those tickets I booked rolls around, my questions and I will all board that plane. Masked. Vaccinated. Keeping as much distance as possible. Making efforts to mitigate risk. And wondering if the ambiguity of it all will ever feel less than a lot.