Nineteen Masks

Tonight was mask laundry.  I save up my once-an-outing-wear masks into a little basket and then do a “wash” when the basket is full.  In between, I have been wearing disposable masks that my husband bought in a large box from Amazon.  As I was washing and hanging the masks on a drying rack, it occurred to me that this was a journal of my last year in masks.

In the beginning were the colorful and comfortable garden masks I had used to help with allergies and pressed into service for what I thought would be a couple of weeks, or a month at most.  Then, when I realized this could go on for a while, I bought some sensible, all-cotton versions that were mostly navy or black and nondescript.

 This must have gotten boring, because somewhere in June came the colorful flower versions, and the beautiful masks sent to me by a friend in Palm Desert who owns a boutique that converted vintage designer scarves into trés chic masks.  Then there were the Fourth of July masks that still fade navy and red every time when I mix them in with the others and that had little wires over the nose.

Must have been September or so when I started with the 3 layer masks, realizing that double ply was too risky, no matter how much I liked the vintage Chanel ones.

One of my favorite neighbors, who played tennis three times a week, passed away from the virus and things changed.  The three layer Christmas masks had a few scattered white and pink rhinestones over navy and black, worn over a disposable mask for good measure as the numbers of infections soared.

Which brings me to tonight’s wash of my nineteen mask collection when it looks like under special circumstances the masks may not have to be worn.  What will that be like?  Will I miss not wearing makeup, and will I ever really feel safe again?  Re-entry into a more relaxed set of rules of engagement for surviving a pandemic seems wonderful, but will it be as easy as we might think?  PTSD does not only happen on a battlefield.  We have all been there for a year, with our lives very much on the line.