Last Saturday morning, after having well hydrated myself, I received Pfizer vaccination number two. Other than developing a sore arm with a small bruise, I've felt fabulous. No other side effects whatsoever. As with so many things, I feel grateful and fortunate.

On my late-Sunday walk with Smellie, I went to visit my friend, Lauren, who lives on a busy corner just down the street. She and I stood in the filtered sunlight inspecting her emerging perennial garden. Although sturdy blades of green are pushing up, nothing is in bloom. Still, its potential to be gorgeous as ever is apparent. She then wanted to show me a tiny shade flower called pulmanaria. I followed Lauren through her small cottage with its screened-in porch, then down some steps into her sunken backyard. Walking through the cottage to the shady enclosure felt surreal; it was the first time in over a year I had stepped foot into someone else's private space. I was taken by surprise, my senses vibrating in a way that made me feel light and alive, and very aware of what I have been missing.

An hour later, I was back home preparing Calvin's evening seizure medications while watching him rest on the rug in the next room. Michael was busy making some delicious chicken soup. As usual, we were listening to music at a decent volume. When I closed the refrigerator door I saw a tall, handsome, neatly-bearded man standing in our mudroom. It was our dear buddy, Jens, wielding a gift bottle of champagne—something that is becoming a habit for him. At that very moment, we were meant to be gathering with him, Barbara and their two kids at a safe distance in our driveway. We were supposed to be celebrating our recent vaccinations, but Calvin's morning seizure and sluggish recovery had caused us to postpone. Jens hand-delivered the champagne anyway.

From the kitchen threshold, Jens stood and chatted with us for a bit—maskless; it had been a few weeks since he had received his J & J vaccine. I told him that I'd hug him after I reached maximum immunity on May first, warning him that he might want to wear body armor for the event. It felt surreal to have a friend in our house for the first time in over a year. It was a welcome sign of things to come.

Just as Jens left, the afterglow of the day's two surreal moments—spending time maskless and close to friends instead of at a distance—left me feeling giddy and full of hope, even though I didn't get to embrace them.

Today, some of the small-leaf rhododendrons are beginning to show their pinkish-purple blossoms. Blush magnolia buds are opening and showering their sweet aroma on passersby like me. Daffodils are dotting gardens, roadsides and woodlands. After a long Maine winter that led into a spring which still looks too much like November, and after a fifteen-month pandemic isolation, the opening world is feeling surreal. I'll take it.

Should be looking like this soon.

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