An Extra Level of Difficulty

Dearest Rachel –

Well, it took a couple of shots of Nyquil to do it (one at nine-thirty when I went to bed, and again at about three-thirty with a sinus cavity that had been filled with rubber cement), but I managed to get at least ten hours of sleep last night. And while I’m nowhere near 100%, I’m going to do what I can to press forward on this journey.

Starting the trip out with what appears to be a head cold adds an extra layer of difficulty to this trip – at least, in the beginning – but hopefully, things will calm down with the passage of time, as the cold looses its grip on my nose and throat. For now, it’s like running with ankle weights on my sinuses and lungs; hopefully, it will get easier once it passes.

I just hope I can keep the symptoms from manifesting too much while at the airport – or worse, on the plane. All it takes is a single cough, even from misjudging a swig of water, to get an entire crowd looking at you cross-eyed, as though you’re some kind of leper. And even the fact that I’ve gotten the one test back saying that I’m free and clear isn’t about to reassure the average traveler who notices my distress. So I’ve got to figure out a way to minimize it.

I did go and get myself a box of cold and flu caplets to see me through after my last swab test this morning (for boarding the boat – if I’m right, and this is only a cold, it shouldn’t confuse the equipment. There’s a difference between a rhinovirus and the coronavirus, after all, and something that’s looking for the latter will most likely overlook the former. Besides, I’m hoping the second test I took on Wednesday comes back as clear as Tuesday’s; at that point, two out of three ought to do me); if I take the nighttime variant just before boarding, I may even be able to sleep through a fair chunk of the flight, thereby only bothering those who might be concerned about my snoring. I won’t deny that I will do that, especially with my head as stuffed as it is right now.

On the other hand, I was able to smell – however faintly, given the level of congestion I was dealing with first thing in the morning – my sandlewood-scented shampoo, so I think I should still be in the clear. I’m not about to try to eat an onion like an apple to prove otherwise, though; nothing says disrespect to your fellow passengers than onion breath, even if you are masked up.

And make no mistake; I am masked up, no matter how many times Daniel insists that I need to resist. They will never change, he says, unless we fight the system. Yeah, well, that’s part of the reason why I’m travelling alone. Granted, it’s probably true that he has no enthusiasm for this particular trip in any event, but there’s not an airport in the world that would let him in, given his defiance toward the mainstays of mitigation. Especially now that a new (or Nu, if you prefer) strain has literally just shown up in South Africa. Everyone is panicking about it; all flights down there have been cancelled, the stock markets are dropping like a rock… if it’s all ‘fake news,’ as he insists, the fact that the world is reacting like it’s real makes it real in virtually all other senses of the term. What does it matter if it’s less virulent or contagious? The fact that people believe it exists, and could pose all manner of problems (even if it’s a case of governments overreacting again) is enough for it to have an effect. He insists that everyone will see The Truth soon enough, but I’m not buying it. Not yet, nor any time soon – whatever ‘soon’ means these days. And I tend to agree with him about the performative nature of the masks when it comes to Covid, even.

Of course, I’m pretty sure that what I’m dealing with isn’t Covid, but rather, the (literal) common cold. And with that being said, a mask will most likely be at least somewhat efficacious in reducing its spread. Look, it may not be as devastating as the pandemic, but even an inconvenience can throw a spanner in the works. Why multiply it to others, when you can take these simple precautions and be on with your day without recriminations?

I hate to leave the house after such a heated discussion with Daniel; it’s almost like that argument we had over the silverware rack – and maybe, someday, it will turn out to be every bit as stupid as that. Of course, the question remains as to who is being stupid here. Hopefully, he will be proven to be in the right one day, but for now, I still insist that in order to go along, one must get along. Resistance only gets you so far before the powers that be push back. And even if you become a martyr for the cause, where was the righteousness in the cause of wearing or not wearing a mask? There are just some circumstances where you have to bite the bullet and do the socially acceptable thing for a certain length of time in order to move on with life.

Traveling to the airport with the folks is a fairly uneventful process, although Dad prefers to take surface streets rather that Interstates 90 and 190. To be sure, it’s based on some measure of experience; traffic on the interstates is unpredictable, and while I had no trouble on my last trip, I was heading to the airport at somewhere between five and six in the morning, not in the middle of the day on Black Friday. So I defer to his wisdom; after all, he’s the one driving.

It feels like it takes forever to get through the security checkpoints, but it’s really little more than half an hour before I’m settled in at the gate, waiting for another hour and a half to pass before we can board.

In the meantime, there’s not a whole lot more to relate. Were you still here and able to read this, I’d say something along the lines of not keeping you any longer, but that’s hardly an issue here. Still, there’s no sense in prolonging this; I might as well draw a curtain of charity over what will, for the moment, be a rather a boring scene.

Talk to you later, honey. I love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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