We Could Live in This Pandemic Purgatory For a While
On Tuesday night, I went to a baseball game. I am a professional sportswriter, so I’ve sat in the press box for a couple of games during the pandemic, but that’s no way to enjoy a baseball game, even one with no other fans allowed. No, Tuesday, I sat in the stands, in seats I had paid for, with my nine-year-old son, drinking a beer and watching my St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 4–2. It was a gorgeous night in south Florida, the retractable roof was open, we even almost got a foul ball. It was wonderful. It was almost like normal.
It wasn’t the Before Time normal. There was, as with every other stadium open for fans in Major League Baseball, reduced capacity — there were 4,952 fans in attendance, which, all told, isn’t that much more than the perpetually losing Marlins have when they’re at full capacity — and there were no occupied seats within 15 feet of my son and me. We all wore masks throughout, and loanDepot Park had ushers circulating, making sure we kept those masks on. There were no beer vendors, no common areas for commingling fans to gather, no players signing autographs pregame. Most of the concession areas were closed, leading to longer lines, and the bathrooms (the men’s, anyway) roped off two-thirds of their urinals to make sure everyone kept their distance from each other. During any time before March 2020, it would have been impossibly awkward and uncomfortable. My favorite thing about going to a baseball game is that I can take a deep breath and a step back, that I can relax for a little bit. That wouldn’t have been happening had it been like this in March 2020.
But it’s not March 2020. It’s April 2021, and we have all been through so much, and had so much taken away. What would have been strange, even unacceptable then, now feels like a revelation. Because at the game on Tuesday, I didn’t care about having to wear a mask, or longer concession lines, or having to buy tickets in a two-person pod. I was just grateful to get to go to a baseball game at all. I’d rather not have to deal with all those things, but they are mere minor inconveniences, the miniscule price I have to pay to enjoy something I haven’t been able to enjoy for more than a year now. It was fine. It was more than fine. It was glorious.
We remain in that limbo period over Covid-19, with vaccines everywhere but variants (and vaccine-hesitant) potentially causing the pandemic to stretch out longer, perhaps even into the fall. As more and more people get fully vaccinated (like me; I get my second Moderna shot on Monday), they will be eager to rejoin the world, to shed the pain of the pandemic, to go out and have that incredible summer. But the world might not quite be ready for us. Cases are growing in certain pockets of the country, and even if they go back down, there is still enough of the virus circulating that precautions may still be required. Even if you’re no longer afraid of either getting or spreading the virus because you are fully vaccinated, masks requirements and social distancing protocols are likely to remain in place for longer than we might like.
On one hand, that’s frustrating, particularly when you’re ready to go out and have all those experiences you’ve been missing for the last year but can’t because of the variants and (mostly) the vaccine-averse. On the other, I can now confirm this: Doing things you haven’t been able to do at all for the last year, like going to a baseball game, or sitting in a movie theater, or going to a concert, or hugging your family … doing all of those things while still having adhere to Covid-19 protocols is still incredible. It is still absolutely worth the wait. We may have to hold on a little longer for the world to completely return to normal. But in the meantime, the world, as it is … it turns out that it’s pretty great.
So get vaccinated, and go enjoy it. It’s right there waiting for you.
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel How Lucky, released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.