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  • Sarah Joy Cook

Pandemic Date Night

We’ve been out during the pandemic--more than many of my friends in fact. We’ve worn our masks and kept our distance. It’s definitely helped my mental health to have some semblance of normalcy. But last night I wanted more. I wanted to dress up in more than yoga pants and a t-shirt. I wanted a date night.


So we did just that--put on our nicer clothes and found a vegan restaurant in a nearby town. We took our masks but as you might expect, the vegan restaurant wasn’t exactly hopping!


We enjoyed our meal and walked around the quaint town until my foot began to hurt. Love all the walking I’ve done to stay sane during COVID-19 but the 7/10 miles a day have resulted in very slow to heal blisters. It’s the physical health price I pay for mental health.


We weren’t quite ready for date night to end so we drove back to Greenville to check out an acoustic cafe on the edge of downtown. We grabbed our masks and approached the door. We were counted and told we were it--now they’re at capacity. Cool! They’re following the guidelines.


But then we walked in the door, and OMG! Ya’ll, I felt like we were stepping into 2019. Wall-to-wall people. No masks. It was almost more than I could absorb. The infection rates in our state are skyrocketing. I’m beginning to understand why. And I understand why folks weren’t wearing masks. We crave normalcy. It’s hard to drink when you’re wearing a mask. And here’s the one I didn’t expect: peer pressure.


As I raised my eyes to look at the other patrons, I saw judgement. I felt the glares and the silent stares. I knew as only an awkward teenagers knows the feeling of not belonging. I grabbed Colin’s hand and cast my eyes to the ground as we made a beeline for the exit.


Back in the fresh air, I tore off my mask and almost broke into tears. I was shaken. I felt shame. How interesting that me, a 44 year old grown a$$ woman, a woman who has done a ton of healing work, had a shame response to a situation that was clearly toxic and not at my doing.


We found another place, another cafe. We found a safe space there. No stares, no crowds, no judgement. Just a cute and talkative bartender, a corner booth, a well-loved Yahtzee game and a couple of drinks.


We shook the dice and shook off the shame.


All in all a good date night. We will keep going out, but I guarantee you we’ll be window shopping before committing from now on.


Namaste.

Sarah Joy


#ProjectRestoreJoy #SurvivingCOVID #PandemicStories #ThankYouVeloFellow #YeahThatGreenville #Shame


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