I’m on an airplane to Detroit. There may be 6-8 people on board a full flight who are wearing surgical masks. This is a first for me, and despite the strange looks and at the encouragement of two passengers just behind me who were talking about when they were putting their masks on, I did, too. There is an assumption that if you are wearing a mask you are sick. So, the looks were pretty intense as I made my way down the aisle to find my seat mid-cabin. I can’t imagine hospital personnel wearing these things all day. There is that warm, moist, almost suffocating feeling of having your nose and mouth covered, a feeling reminiscent of when I was a child breathing in the menthol warm, moist air generated by the vaporizer when I was sick. The man next to me is going to Detroit to visit his first grandchild, 2 weeks old. He promised his daughter he would wear a mask, shower and wash his hair before touching the newborn. How many times did I wash my hands today?
At dinner last night, Marci asked me when was the last time I was in Mexico before she would give me a hug in greeting. Not since mid-February, I replied. Then, today in the NY Times I read that the virus could have mutated from bird to pig to human as long as a year ago. Perhaps it is of the variety that erupts when the weather turns warm, rather than vice versa, I wonder. We are all preoccupied now and doing anything we can to protect ourselves despite the fact that some health care professionals say the face masks don’t help prevent the illness. Then, why, I might ask, are they handing out masks all over Mexico and the photos of the health care workers in the Mexican hospitals are all wearing them?
Today is Thursday, one day before the start of a long Mexican holiday weeking leading up to Cinco de Mayo – the Battle of Puebla. I am on my way to Columbus, Ohio, to visit my friend Sam (Frances) Robbins. We are going to celebrate our Oaxaca connection by creating our own Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Perhaps I will make Micheladas. For certain, we will dine on her Talavera dishes hand made and carried back from our Puebla adventures. This is the best we can do right now. Neither of us have plans to be in Mexico in the next month.
My glasses are fogging up. The flight attendant is serving drinks and snacks. Do I pass on them or raise my mask to drink? The dilemmas of travel during influenza. I pass as she looks at me hesitantly. What does Joe Biden know?