After nearly 600 days, the voice bellowed out: let there be sight!
This week, for the first time in my two law school years, I saw my classmates. Maskless.
It’s been a long, strange trip, day after day grabbing heavily used textbooks and even more worn facemasks, forgetting about what’s pressing on my breathing as I try to remember test material, pulling the fabric below my nose as I cower in an enclosed library corral and wait for another random inspection.
This last example will always be my COVID-school remembrance. One of my three library spots (I realize I’m risking squatter’s rights by any disclosure) is an individual study corral. I don’t mean a chair with two flimsy, foot-high dividers, open to the air and all those floating pathogens. This corral, rather, is much more than that. Like a small-sized closet.
Equipped with door and three walls, my corral had it all — and nearly enough room to squeeze in. Inside this spot of security, I asked myself the typical law school question: what would the reasonable student do?
I don’t go out of my way to breach standards of care. Honest. I try to listen to medical doctors and even politicians. But after careful thought, I determined I probably couldn’t give COVID-19 to myself, right?
So I pulled my mask down, in that back library corner, in the one-person corral, with walls to my left, right, front, and back.
And that’s when there was a knock on the door.
“Excuse me. Put your mask on.”
Student workers need to do their reasonable-man best, too. And get their work credit hours.
Life ain’t easy for a mask-wearing law school student.
But, then again, life ain’t that hard either.
That was my big, mask-off takeaway this week. There definitely were a few “I-didn’t-know-they-looked-like-that” moments. 600 days can play on your perceptions. But, more, there was a naturalness to it. People walked and talked and smiled. The reasonable man is so well-adjusted.
Did I ever tell you I wrote my thesis on the face? No, not a philosophical study on E!’s Botched—that’s a hard pass from my dvr. I wrote 100 pages on the face as a means to reduce violence. And even got a Roman Kinko’s to print it out for me.
I know there’s a big readership for 100 pages on a theological study of a 20th century Lithuanian Jewish philosopher’s ethical study of the face, so I’ll resist dropping it all in this blog post. Imagine the Penguin Press royalties coming my way!
But there’s something about the face. About seeing it — our own and each other’s.
Thankfully, we’re in a health-and-safety-protocol place to be able to.
600 days and now unmasked.
This week at your Lenten Christian high church (readings often are similar) you may hear about Jesus’ transfiguration. Up the mountain with Peter, James, and John, Jesus is described by Luke’s account: “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” Notice that face change.
All masks are not created equal. After glittering my way through three drum major hats in my Mardi Gras prep (oh, that’s why they’re looking at me…) I might be ready to start a small business — or at least diversify my skillset some. Consider this inspiration.