My dreams have been vivid over the last week, involving a diverse array of people from my past. College friends, old co-workers, childhood playmates all come forward and ask me to participate in some activity with fervent desire, wide-eyed need. The activities differ but in every dream there is one constant - no one is wearing a mask. This absence of masks usually dawns on me toward the end of the dream and I wake up in terror, as if from a nightmare. "How could I not wear a mask?" I think, before the rational mind kicks in and reassures me that the event never occurred, that I have not recently gone on a plane, into a competition, or to a hotel without a face mask.
I wonder if this phenomenon affects my friends and neighbors. Impossible to say, as we go about our newly restructured routines, smiling at each other with our eyes, or standing 6 feet apart on the greenbelt catching up on the whereabouts and well-being of our children. I usually exercise to the point of exhaustion so that I can fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but it takes a lot less exertion these days to get to that point. My body and mind wake up tired and become more tired as I read the news over coffee. I don't know how doctors, nurses and teachers are managing their jobs, managing the stress. They are heroes.
One thing that inspires me and gives me a boost of energy: our neighborhood Christmas lights. The Willow Creek community usually has a high number of decorators at the holidays - colored lights, white icicles, illuminated reindeer, blow-up Santas - these festive items adorn most properties. This year, it seems that every single house has taken on the job of lighting our December, and I volunteer to do driving errands at night just so I can see the flood of colors, twinkling on fences and even random trees in the greenbelt. Where a month ago we had election signs for Trump or Biden, now we have lights. We even have people volunteering to string lights on communal property (though not while wearing masks). No matter the religion or lack thereof, no matter the political beliefs, we are united in trying to make it through the darkest month as much twinkling hope as we can muster.