“The American male doesn’t mature until he has exhausted all other possibilities.”
I had my share of angst about what to be when I grew up. I felt lost and uncertain about the future. I avoided expectations by dropping out. I moved to the mountains. It was the right thing to do, given my confusion. The natural world made sense, much more than urban life in the 60s. For me, the question was more about where I wanted to live and how I could make that happen. Even though I had no imagination for such an outcome, what I finally wanted to be is what I’ve become, a father and a grandfather.
Recently, one of my sons needed support following surgery. So, I made an unexpected trip to Oakland, CA. I am a native of San Francisco. I am fond of my hometown but wonder about its future. Two decades of an infusion of tech money finds it in search of an identity. Oakland, however, takes pride in its diversity. Murals several stories high commemorate local people and the city’s artists. It exudes comfort with itself.
In March, prior to traveling, I’d received the Moderna vaccine. One month later I participated in a study funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The study measured the Covid antibody response in patients with blood cancer. I tested positive for antibodies created by the vaccine. That’s good. Unfortunately, the quantity of my antibodies was low.
At this time, there is no consensus as to what is a protective amount of antibodies. Biologists, however, are able to infer an approximate threshold for immunity. I did not attain that level. Therefore, I am left to assume my vulnerability to Covid is equivalent to someone who chose not to get vaccinated.
I learned of my weak antibody situation soon after committing to make the journey from Oregon to Oakland. I was needed and I was going, Covid be damned.
The thrills of airline travel take on a whole new meaning in our pandemic world. Frankly, I felt a bit like Frodo heading off to Mordor. Compulsory masking made it difficult to tell ordinary travelers from the orcs and goblins. I endured the herding at the gate. I took an aisle seat. My immune system, already suspect due to multiple myeloma, could not be relied upon to protect me in the claustrophobic cabin. I doubled up on my masks. I spoke to no one. I refused the depressing bag of pretzels and the complimentary drink. I did my best to remain incognito, secreted in my mission.
While in Oakland, I adhered to safe practices. Acquaintances advised me against riding on public transit. I walked everywhere. I visited with my son. I attended to house chores. I delivered meals. I shopped for groceries. The time passed. My visit was incident free. After seven days, I returned home.
Covid: the great equalizer, reminds us that all our lives are fenced in by time. The area, regardless of its size, will always be too small. We aspire to goals as motivation to explore what we hope is an enormous territory. Meanwhile, the boundaries, constricted for many by the pandemic, encroach upon our hope for longevity.
Now that I’m back in Oregon and due to a plentiful supply of vaccine products in our county, I am considering a third dose of vaccine. It seems likely that everyone will eventually need a booster, perhaps as early as the fall.
So, I may get in line ASAP. I want to keep that fence line in the distance. After all, I still have some growing up to do.
Here’s another song. This one is for my granddaughter. When I Grow Up