You leave the party. You’re the wet blanket, the one who reminded the group of dancing, sweaty bodies that Covid-19 was real. You slink away and refuse to hug anyone. The locals working in the restaurant wear masks. There is fear in their eyes, but they need the money. They hate the tourists — You speak Spanish and you can hear them. Your family is from this country, but you’re American. You feel like a traitor and a fraud...a traitor to your heritage, and a fraud among white Americans.
You feel like you have to go.
You walk back to your hotel room alone. You can’t wait to be back in your family’s house in a small farm town in a local village. You didn’t think the beach would be this bad. You’re a little afraid. You long for home. Your childhood room.
You can breathe there. You can sleep with a blanket. You can go days, weeks, without drinking or smoking pot, and no one will question you.
The beach towns are so hot that your laptop breaks. You get another one and pay $400 more than you would back home, but you need it to work.
You wonder about the beach town. They feel so free, the Americans there. They seem to feel just fine about everything. It does seem nice. Are they really wiser than you, or are they just in denial? Will one of them see someone gasping for air and change their minds? What will it take to show the limits of mind over matter?
You don’t belong at that party, and you also aren’t a local. You know the worst of both worlds. You try to pick the best.
You want to stay. This is home. This is the only real home you’ve ever had. It’s the only place that imprinted on you in a good way as a child. You feel safe. You have memories here. Yes, this is where you want to stay during the pandemic. Not on the beach, but in this tranquil nothing town. You want to have boring days. You want to walk to the fruit stand, come home and make a smoothie. You want to look up at the stars and listen to music. You want to complain about the WiFi.
This is paradise.
You feel strange, a bit outside of your body. A tourist tells you that he thinks all the rules are just to scare people.
You remember watching your baby cousins. They wore their masks without fear. It was just another thing to them, like socks and shoes. They got masks to match their favorite outfits. Marvel Characters. Unicorns. Sparkly rainbows. And no fear.
You try to explain that you can follow rules without living in fear. He talks louder than you.
Overall, it feels like the shoe is about to drop. They feel free and call it wisdom.
You feel foreboding, and call it being a wet blanket. You hope that you are wrong, as you look at the smiling, laughing faces in the distance.
You hope that you are wrong, and you fear that you’re not.