The mask. The fashion accessory from 2020 that everyone took part in. The staple of every wardrobe no matter how formal or casual. The mask. Something that now, thanks to the CDC, is no longer required for fully vaccinated Americans. So since I've had my double dose of the 'Fauci Ouchie', I feel like a butterfly, reborn into nature.

OK, so that sounds a bit dramatic, but hearing that I don't need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors anymore, or even social distance, was a great feeling. And for those of you who aren't included yet, there is a simple FREE thing you can do to join us! Get the shot! If you're anything like me, your relationship with masks has had several different stages.

The first stage was anger and denial. I have to wear what? I need to wear it all the time? But I have glasses! They fog up if I wear a mask! Most Americans were not used to wearing a mask, like many other foreign countries were. They had been subject to virus outbreaks before. Now it was our turn. The next mask stage was acceptance and generosity. We all have to wear masks, so lets start making them! Creative people began sewing and making wonderful, colorful, and creative masks. First it was for our first responders and medical professionals. Then, for the rest of us. Your mask was a chance to say something. It became a fashion statement. It was a part of you.

Then came the final stage of mask wearing, irritability. How long do we have to keep wearing these things? As the pandemic stretched on and on, the mask became a symbol of the so-called 'oppressed.' It became a political statement. Something it never intended to become. It was always meant to be a tool to help us end COVID-19. And in the end, it did it's part.

But now the vaccines are fully available, and the data and science behind them are even better than some thought. If fully vaccinated, you are not only unlikely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, data now shows you are unlikely to even spread the virus to others. But what about all the people who haven't got their shots yet? How do businesses tell the difference between me, and them?

That is where more compassion and common sense come in to play. A local business can't be expected to ask customers for their vaccine cards. So while I'll begin walking in places with no mask on, I will carry one with me. If someone asks me to wear it, I'll do so. Not for my safety, but for their comfort and well-being. If you see a fellow citizen walking around without a mask, don't judge them. Hope that they are vaccinated. All we can do is show people that we care for them, and let them know how well the shots work.

So with that, I say goodbye to my friend, the mask. Somehow I feel like we'll see each other again.


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