Un Petit Exposé

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(or listen here)

Nous avons peut-être été exposés au covid.

Posiblemente hemos estado expuestos a covid.

Wir waren möglicherweise covid ausgesetzt.

meh – it doesn’t matter how you say it. Last week we spent a day in tentative quarantine to wait for test results when we had been exposed to an active positive COVID friend through a mutual buddy. What a weird day to wait and see if we had to cancel our hosting Thanksgiving for 10 – some of which were traveling over 8 hours to visit. Spoiler – everyone who interacted with the positive COVID person has fully tested negative, so we were in the clear and proceeded with the things of the Thanksgiving with our group of 10. LUCKY for sure.

This was a wake-up call to reign in the slack. We’d been at a few primarily unmasked outdoor social events recently and hugging friends. Unless they are medically unable to receive a vaccination, or an under-5, most of our social circle are vaccinated with at least one jab/shot/inoculation. The day our visiting Thanksgiving people left, I received my booster. My body tends to react to any vaccine, and the booster remained on point with this trend. About 48 hours of fever, headache, swollen/red/tender arm and neck, red cheeks, nausea, debilitating joint pain, and extreme exhaustion. You know what I didn’t have? COVID requiring hospitalization or death leaving my 13-year-old parentless. You’re welcome, community/world – I am not deliberately leaving a vulnerable child subject to further trauma and he still has a chance to be a productive empathetic contributing member of our human society. So there’s that. At least for today, we are okay.

Over this past week, I thought a lot about how many people are struggling this time of year. The people who cannot be with loved ones for whatever reason. The people who came before us who we pretend to venerate on Thanksgiving but who we stole lands from and committed genocide on. The people who did not receive good news about being infected with COVID or some other scary diagnosis. I don’t bring this up it’s because I feel the need to tamp down any positive experience with tragedy. I do think it is more difficult to appreciate the wonder of what is when we fail to recognize the reality of how we got here or what is happening around us.

The Piscataway, Iroquois, Susquehannock, and other woodland native tribes once moved through the area where I live. The Iroquois nation developed and negotiated agreements between tribes through a vast council where all tribes could be represented (but not necessarily have a say in decisions), including European settler representatives. Of course, when decisions were made that did not suite us (my settler ancestors), we used force and viral warfare. That’s right, we deliberately sent infected people, blankets and other trade items into native tribes so that the tribe members would become ill and die.

There isn’t any chance that we did not understand this was morally reprehensible and wrong. Deliberately sending infections into places where we knew people did not have any immunity build-up or access to any cures. *sigh* Now we pretend our motives for infection spread are about our personal freedom and liberties to conduct our bodies as we see fit even when we know there are those in our communities who cannot receive immune support. Despite having access to better, faster, and more information about diseases and human behaviors, along with technology support, it turns out we aren’t that evolved from our European colonizers in the 17th/18th centuries. Freedom, personal agency, liberty does not extend to putting someone else’s life on the line when you exercise your rights. Hello seatbelts, speed limits, drunk-driving rules, no-smoking zones, vaccine requirements, food labels and regulations, water contaminate disclosures, hazardous waste disposal rules, OSHA…

In this country, ages 5+ have easy ready access to a COVID vaccine and ages 18+ have easy ready access to boosters 6 months out from vaccines. We all have easy access to masks. Our government has treated non-white people like crap. We must do better to earn respect, gain trust through accountability, and recruit everyone who is able to receive the vaccine. We also need to wear masks inside and outside in crowds at all times for the next year at least. Our vulnerable populations depend on those of us who can to do what we can. Exercise our freedom, personal agency, and liberty by doing our part to take care of our community, if for no other reason than that when we are in need (and all of us are at some point) our community can be there for us too.

That’s my two cents on the COVID shiz.

The chestnut oak I had cut down almost two months ago probably saw a Piscataway family heading down to one of the Chesapeake tributaries to gather water or follow deer and turkey for a tasty feast, as they prepared for wintering. I thought about them as I sat with my sweet SonHerisme and family as I ate my little plate of green beans, mashed potatoes, and vege dressing and gave thanks for all of the things.

I am very thankful for you. Thank you for sharing this space with me and for “liking” and commenting as you can when you can. I hope that you are more often surrounded by health and comfort than not. And fairy lights.

Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo

ps. In other news, I am once again re-reading A New Earth. It turns out, I can’t not do the things of the efforts and trying for something, anything, no matter the pain it brings from the inevitable disappointments. So there it is.

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