Twelve years ago today, I got married on a beach on the west coast of Canada. I stood barefoot in the sand and held a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers. I’ll spare you the other details – the triple-layer lemon cake we (as in me and my husband-to-be) baked together, the poem I wrote, the Jeep that drove by as we recited our vows, honking.
That’s all over now. Now I sit in Spain, alone, drinking a glass of Rioja. A pandemic ravages the world, and I can’t stop feeling like we’re all caught between a rock and a hard place. Every situation now comes with its own set of unpleasantries, and most of these include a mask.
Today, my blue surgical mask just wouldn’t cooperate. As I tried to recoup a modicum of happiness on what was supposed to be an anniversary marked by gifts of silk or linen–two of my favourite fabrics, incidentally – my mask drooped, got wet, and just plain prevented me from fully breathing in the bracing sea air.
I tried hard not to let this get to me – I understand the rules, after all, and want to do my part to halt the spread of coronavirus. But what are the rules when you’re alone in a eucalyptus forest in the rain and you begin to cry? Is it okay to remove your mask, or at least pull it down beneath your nostrils?
Nearly every day I see evidence that others have faced such a dilemma. I’ve seen masks identical to my own floating in the sea, hanging on tree branches, pinned to barbed wire fences.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so they say. Not only did I decide to remove my mask as I walked upon the sands of Praia de Tuia (Tuia Beach) I removed all of my clothing. I walked into the September sea on the last day of summer, on the anniversary that would never be celebrated again, and dove in. Two fishermen watched from the rocks.
The tide pulled me out, then back to shore. Back and forth, back and forth. I floated there, looking up at the grey sky, not wanting to be anywhere else.
P.S. In case the title reminded you of anything, here’s Blondie