Coronavirus Days--Week 49

Lately, I often rummage through my mask drawer, which used to be my bra drawer, but now that I hardly ever feel a need to wear a bra, I have let the masks sprawl. I organize them, sometimes, piling all the KN94s and KN95s together, those only used for high stress visits like the grocery store or any type of store, except I only go to the grocery store, at least right now. They will be my plane protection, accompanied by another mask, since that feels like the only place I would feel like I truly need to double mask. At least for now.

Next to the KNs, or sometimes atop them when there's a seismic shift in the drawer, are my most worn masks--the cloth one that has a charcoal filter that fits inside, giving me that extra protection when I go walking with a friend outside, have my occasional hair cut appointment (they have easy loops to remove from my ears when he needs to trim closely), or drive a friend somewhere. They're in multiple colors--red, a soothing olive green, blue, black. I could color coordinate if I cared, but fashion statements have faded with my bras.

And then there are the wide variety of cloth masks. Those purchased from a seamstress in the early days, a couple bought to help out a friend of a friend of a friend, and a few grabbed here and there like the one that Kaiser gave to people as they showed up for a vaccine. But the most cherished are the several sent to me, always as a surprise, from a dear friend since my teen years. It is those surprise ones that warm me in the cold when I go for my daily walks, make me present as I put one on since I need to look in the mirror and tie, and help me smile even if nobody knows I'm smiling underneath its cover.

I haven't taken count, but I have more masks than underwear, which if you told me would be the case almost a year ago, I might have laughed, or bought more underwear. These are the mask days, the mask months, the mask years. Table photography books will chronicle their fashion, their place, their statements. Perhaps one day, The Met will do a costume focused exhibit on masks from these pandemic years. Time capsules, unearthed decades from now, might have their own assortment. 

They feel more normal than abnormal these days. 


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