Trying on “Normal”

Last weekend, after more than half a year of social distancing, I finally took a leap and tried on what the new “normal” is like—including taking off my mask in a public setting!

I was back in the financial district last weekend to do some business errands and I decided to make the most of it by doing things that I’ve never done since the start of the pandemic.  The first one was getting the much-needed haircut.  Working from home became so much more toxic than it was in the old office setting and it wasn’t good that I had long hair as I tend to play with them when I get a bit frustrated.  Shedding your hair like a dog’s fur on summer doesn’t help improve my stress level so it’s something that I placed on high urgency.  I’ve been holding back for so long as I didn’t have the confidence yet that the safety protocols were well established, but since it’s been a while since the barbershops opened and the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the Metro have been steadily declining, I decided it’s about time—or I might lose my hair with all my constant pulling.

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And so that was the first thing I did Saturday morning, just as soon as a relatively nearby mall opened.  I was a bit hesitant to go through it at first, but as there weren’t any other customers yet when I arrived, I went through with it.  I honestly did not know how haircuts were supposed to go through under the new “normal” but I never really did remove my mask throughout the process, even when my hair was shampooed after.  The most “extreme” thing I did during this ordeal was having the strap of my mask removed but the mask never left my face.  I never really felt unsafe throughout my haircut and to be honest, I think it’s the staff that are more at risk than individual customers.  I was so glad to see myself again without all that hair that I gave my barber a good tip!

And since I was pushing the envelop that day, might as well push it a bit further.  I decided to dine in for lunch!  There are so many things that I miss because of the pandemic and among them are good food.  While I’m not yet confident to dine in everywhere it’s allowed, I was confident with the setup of the establishment I went to that day.  Removing your mask in a public setting during this pandemic felt like going to a war without a gun, but it’s a risk you’ll have to take to gain back some semblance of what normal used to be.  Eating out after all this time is like a small taste of heaven!  At the back of my mind though I’m still praying that none of the patrons that day carry the virus for all our sakes!  And I also gained so much more respect to all the public-facing workers that risk themselves daily just to bring food to their own table.  Salute to all our front-liners!

One last thing I did before going back to my social isolation was a quick visit to a park—Ayala Triangle Gardens.  It’s been so long since I’ve been under the trees, hear the birds, and feel the wind on my skin.  While I didn’t remove my mask to smell the air, just being closer to a pocket of nature in the city gave me the calm feeling that I’ve long been seeking.  Seeing some kids play and stray cats relax under sun makes you forget, even temporarily, of all your problems.  I would’ve stayed much longer if I didn’t have to find a restroom to pee (all are closed in the park).

It sure was a great risk to be close to another individual to have a haircut and remove your mask to eat.  But sometimes, it’s these little things that makes us feel alive.  I appreciate them more and give them great value, especially at these times that it’s worth taking the risk.  I’m thankful that I can afford to stay at home and continue my livelihood, and I pray for the safety of all the people that don’t have the same luxury and continue to work in this pandemic.  Sure, it still lingers on my mind if there’s a chance I got infected with these “risky” activities, but I guess it’s human nature to work around the challenges that nature present.  We all take risks in our daily lives, and there are risks worth taking—even if the prize may be considered by some as small and the price be great.  After all, we value things differently.

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