I don't have much funny to say about the second Pfizer shot. The first one was easy—nothing at all but a bruised-feeling arm, and that went away the next day. This second shot that I got yesterday is clearly making itself known. No fever, but a headache and a head full of sand or concrete. Thinking is a good idea, but much easier in theory than in practice. Joints and muscles are stiff. It's not quite as bad as being sick—it's just a small pile of annoyances which are, when you count them up, much much much more benign than the pile of what you would get or cause without the vaccine.
At work the other day we were doing some kind of icebreaker—the usual kind of introduce yourself to people, the unusual aspect of it being people you've never met, although I suppose that's also usual more—and I mentioned I'd like to go back to the Guadalupe Mountains. Now the thought is rattling around in my head.
That's the place I wanted to be for my fortieth birthday. Guadalupe Peak is one of my... I don't know... call it a power center, although that sounds like essential oils and crystals. But in December 2020, Texas was full of COVID so I didn't even honestly consider going.
Now, with a second vaccine shot in my arm today, it's close enough to touch, it's close enough to see—in my mind, at least, but even it was far away quite recently. But there it is now. Like that lonely highway TX-54 north out of Van Horn where the Guadalupe Mountains begin to coalesce as a rock lump in the distance, growing slowly as you merge into US-62 to roll around the east side of the old reef, El Capitán resolving into its own dominating forward-thrusting feature, the road gaining small altitude until you can ditch that infernal machine at Pine Springs, take a few steps up the trail, then a few steps more, and let the mountain hold you in its dry limestone arms.
It doesn't sound like much—and it isn't—but the thought is enough. For now.
Nine hours later—nothing. Maybe I felt a little tired earlier, but it's hard to tell the difference between that and post-work week tiredness. No fever. No soreness—maybe a little if I chickenwing my arm, but you can't have it all, I guess.
No euphoria. No crying. No ecstasy. No relief. No desire to praise science. No feelings, really. No release. Just this undercurrent of frustration—of riding in a boat called Earth with enough lunatics aboard to make the passage interesting in good times and destructive in bad times. Now we wait and see if the lunatics get the shot and help bring the pandemic to a close. I'm not betting on it. But I'm hoping for it all the same.
I've never read a comic book. My understanding of comic hero superpowers, absorbed through movies and other pop culture, is that there is an upside and a downside to them.
My pandemic superpower is that I can tolerate boredom--self-imposed boredom, at least--for an excruciatingly long time. Years of staring out of the windows of cars, buses, and trains, and of going on long walks and runs, has prepared me to survive in this never ending state of waiting. (I would have preferred the case where society-at-large did what needed to be done to make the wait shorter, but here we are.)
The downside that I haven't learned how to mitigate yet is that being able to hide out forever inside yourself is a net negative for others who know you, who depend on you. I'm thinking about that as 2021 rolls in.