TODAY'S PAPER
Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

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I got my second vaccine shot a few weeks ago, and just recently cleared the two-week waiting period.

Finally, time to collect the golden ticket.

Time to get back out there in fullness, time to meet and greet and dine and do all the good stuff from which we've been refraining for so long. I mouth the words, and feel the urge in my heart.

And yet, my head is saying: not … so … fast.

I find myself still exercising caution, still holding back a little, still not willing to wrap the entire world in a big embrace. I find myself taking it step by small step, not devouring what I've missed in giant leaps.

It's funny. In the earlier days of the pandemic, we’d get in the car to drive somewhere and along the way we'd suddenly realize we were DWM — driving while mask-less. Cue the exasperation and a quick U-turn for home to collect the protective gear. Eventually, they became a reflexive part of the wardrobe.

Now we're fully vaccinated, and when we go out walking the neighborhood streets as we've been doing and somebody approaches from the other direction on the same side of the street, we reflexively cross over — or they do. And I wonder how long it will take to feel comfortable shedding that habit.

Part of my reticence undoubtedly comes from the extraordinary luck I've had in being able to work from home throughout this period. Many others have been navigating our pandemic world far longer and no doubt have worked their way through the questions I'm only beginning to ask.

But part of it also stems from the way each of us adds our post-pandemic activity to the calculus of risks we contemplate every day. We're always assessing risk, all of us, at every waking moment. How fast we drive, how late we stay out, whether we lie to someone, to what degree we can trust the stranger we just met, whether we take a dip in the ocean when the undertow is strong, whether we stand on the very top of the ladder to be able to drape the Christmas lights on a slightly higher branch, whether we exchange words with a bully, whether we get the vaccine.

It's all risk assessment, and we do it differently from other people and often differently from our younger selves — or from what will become our older selves. We throw caution to the wind. We hide under the bedcovers. Most of us probably do some of both. Many of us probably do less of the former and more of the latter as the calendar pages fly by.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we all need to be sensitive to each other and understand that we all are making different calculations of our risk because we've experienced the pandemic in different ways, seen its ravages to different degrees. I hope we all assess responsibly.

Now come the tricky logistics of family gatherings where not everyone has been vaccinated because they have chosen not to be vaccinated, and you wonder whether to play into their assessments of risk or stay true to your own and continue to wear a mask or avoid them. I don't want to be an unwitting transmitter, but they have made their conscious choices. We are planning to get on an airplane this summer to visit a daughter. I'm sure we'll still be calculating.

I feel a little like the asparagus in my backyard, dormant underground for months, now pushing through the warming soil and upward, reaching toward the sun.

The warmth feels good. I'll keep stretching.

Michael Dobie is a member of Newsday's editorial board.

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