When the pandemic first kicked in, I felt a lot of fear, along with the automatic, involuntary bodily constriction that accompanies fear. I just wanted to sort of curl up inside myself and run away from it all. I rarely left the house, pretty much only for supplies. I hunkered down.
After a bit, while still at home, I rallied and tremendously increased the frequency of my webinar offerings. Now that people are all stuck at home, I have a captive audience. My online teachings have been wildly successful. Attendance is at an all-time high. I have always loved teaching; it brings me great joy. So every 3-4 days these webinars give me a bright spot of connection with sex-positive people from all over the world. This has helped me regain a bit of balance.
The webinars also provide me with direction and focus amidst the daily floundering, time wasting and wondering that all arrived with the pandemic. Achieving balance has been a completely new path through the woods, that's for sure.
But as time marched forward and I began to understand the full impact of the pandemic, I realized I couldn't stay home forever. And as businesses began to offer modified openings, I considered my options. Should I see my hairdresser so she could even up the hack job I did out of desperation? Should I get a pedicure just for the indulgence factor? I felt I deserved it, after dealing with all the effects the pandemic has had on my life. Should I connect with a lover, to be soothed and pampered?
The bigger question there being: What is it that causes us to start taking risks again? If risks are not taken due to necessity, and one has the choice, what is it that can tempt us to step over that line with our masks on (or off), and have some level of connection with others? For me, the answer to that question has changed a lot during the last 4 months.
At first it was about money. I had so many inquiries for pro work that I was astonished. I suppose for those men, that was the thing that tempted them to step over the line. And the money tempted me, for a while. I just couldn't picture it, though. I am very touchy, quite up close and personal with my pro work. We would definitely be breathing the same air and touching a lot, in an enclosed space. I just couldn't go there.
After a while, the lure of money faded (partly due to unemployment kicking in). Then I thought about stepping over the line to assuage my personal need for touch. Intimate times with a play partner, kissing, cuddling and sexy times sounded good. Really good.
So in the end, what was it that got me to cross the line?
The gym re-opened. Seriously. Yesterday I went back to the gym for the first time since the end of February.
I've missed the freedom to work out so much. Sure, there were perhaps other ways I could have found some exercise for the last 4 months, but I was in such a wonderful groove at the gym when everything ground to a halt. Figuring out replacements for my gym routine felt too difficult among all the other stresses.
Feeling that groove again was a delight, truly. Dancing to the music on the elliptical brought such a big smile to my face. I sat down at each machine and realistically decreased the amount of weight due to my months of inactivity. I felt a thrill when I managed to do 3 sets of 12. And my reunion with the ropes was sweet. I love the ropes! No one minute sets now (felt like about 30 seconds - I didn't even use my phone to time myself), but I kept it up until my delts burned. I do love me some rope sets.
So how did I feel about the risk aspect of working out at my gym?
Well, they had a touch-free check in process and were taking many precautions for the club's members. I had to schedule a workout time, which was limited to an hour. They only let so many people into the gym each hour, and everyone must leave at the end of the hour. The staff then goes through and cleans everything for 30 minutes before they let another group in. In the cardio area, I was grateful that only every third machine was available for use, keeping us far apart.
They asked members to bring their own masks. There were signs on the front door saying masks were required. At the check-in point, everyone seemed to be following that rule. Then I got upstairs to the workout area and was surprised to find that despite our California state Governor announcing 4 days ago that wearing a mask is now mandatory for everyone when occupying indoor public places (except toddlers or when eating), and despite those signs on the front door saying that masks were required, at least 60% of the people working out were not wearing masks. Additionally, there was no attempt to enforce the mask requirement.
Masks. Whew! Right?
They suck to wear, no matter how pretty or creative they are. And they have become a bit of a political flash point, bizarrely enough. What makes the entire situation much more difficult is that the people who choose not to wear do not limit the risk only to themselves. With this virus you can be asymptomatic and contagious for 2 days before you start showing symptoms. Knowing that, I can't help but see the refusal to wear a mask, distilled down to it's most basic message as, fuck you, I don't care if you get sick and maybe even die. Which I have to be honest, pretty much blows my mind.
I did not call anyone out on not wearing a mask. They were clearly in the majority. I would have spent the entire time there calling people out if I tried. And honestly, I took my mask off during my cardio workout on the elliptical machine so I could breathe more easily. I was far from anyone else and felt okay about it. But I put it back on and wore it for the rest of my entire workout.
I did stop at the desk on my way out to express my frustration. A young lady there told me that they have the signs up that masks are required, but they can't make people wear them.
I responded that I disagreed. I mean, you certainly can't tackle people and put the mask on them, but you can make them leave if they don't comply with the rule. Trader Joe's does a fine job of doing exactly that. The retail store my daughter works in requires masks and refuses entry to anyone not wearing one. Yes, you can indeed enforce the rules.
This was their first day open, and I'm sure they were trying to get organized, testing the waters and just figuring out the new normal. But I thought the situation deserved a call to the club. I explained myself as best as I could, letting them know that if they weren't going to enforce the mask requirement, I didn't feel safe working out there. The man who spoke with me tried to make an analogy between people going to restaurants and then taking their masks off to eat, saying it's up to the businesses once the people are in the door. Uh....no. Incorrect.
I worked out again today and fully 95% of the people were not wearing masks. Well, as much as I was enjoying working out again, this situation was untenable. Turns out corporate advised the club to promote the wearing of masks, including signs saying they were required, but they were not required to enforce it.
We are all finding our way in this new normal, and I feel for the workers at the gym; does seem like they are between a rock and a hard place. So I called and tried to figure it out with a supervisor. Happily, I discovered that from 2 - 3 every day it was Senior Hour - 55 and up, and that the club was practically deserted during that time. So for now, I guess I'll head on over there at 2 and enjoy working out, dancing on the elliptical.
There are advantages to being older!
Hope you are all well and safe and finding your way to joy, happiness and satisfaction, however those are appearing in your life now. Take care and be safe.