Hugging strangers on the streets of Wilmington

Does anyone know how to live in the world right now? Like, successfully and without engaging with public safety personnel? I was just getting good at living in my home, where the food gets delivered and the sundries get delivered and no one ever leaves and when we do we go one place, wear one mask, and then come home. Now it’s time to pivot and figure out what happens next and *spoiler alert* it’s not going well.

This week, after the requisite two full weeks post-vaccine, I took a few opportunities to live in the world. Husband and I went out for breakfast one morning on the rare day that all three kids were at school and we had flexibility in the 8 am to 9 am range. I planned to meet my sister, aunt, and uncle at Longwood. And, I decided to attend a public event declaring racism a public health crisis (it is) and, since I would be in downtown Wilmington, I added on a lunch with a board member. This was the kind of thing I did ALL THE TIME in the before times. Looked at the calendar, figured out based on location and timing what else I could squeeze in, arranged it. I did this in my sleep in the before times.

So, I parked the car on Market Street and went to park using the parkmobile app but it had been so long since I had used it that the card had expired so I used my last 5 quarters to park (relevant later) and walked to the event. For late-April, it was FREEZING and afterward I hustled back to my car after to move it to a spot closer to the restaurant and put a dime in the meter and figured I’d get to the restaurant, order a hot beverage, and re-do the parking app while I waited.

Except when I reached into my bag to get my wallet to use the credit card to update the app, no wallet. I dash to the car, retrace my steps, look in the car, no wallet. Panic sets in. All I can picture is spending the next week dealing with cancelling cards, disputing charges, getting a new license, and then the real panic - my vaccine card was in there. UGHHHH. Actual panic. Sweating, short of breath, heart racing. Just panic. I spend the next ten minutes on the phone, alerting my Chase card, husband, and board member; the lovely restaurant host was so helpful when I couldn’t even pay for my hot tea; and then I walked back out to my car and THE DOWNTOWN VISIONS GUY WALKING BY WAS HOLDING MY WALLET.

Seriously. Like, he walked by me with my wallet. After confirming it was mine, we peeked inside - cash, cards, license and holy vaccine card inside! Panic abated, leading to sheer elation. Showing him my vaccine card, I asked if he’d accept a hug from a fully vaccinated Delawarean. He said yes, and so that is the story of how hugs are back and how I don’t know how to live in the world anymore.

P.S. The CDC says that vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing both infection from and the spread of COVID-19, and if your priority is getting your kids back in school five days a week, please please encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated. SRSLY.

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