On Monday, my husband I got a potentially life-changing text. Extra doses of the Moderna vaccine were set to expire in one hour and if we could get from our home Uptown to the clinic in Mid-City in time, we could each get a shot that day, and the second 28 days later. (Which of course elicited multiple zombie jokes.) We were out on a walk when the message came through, so we high-tailed it home, Dukes of Hazzarded our way into the car — or at least that’s how it looked in my mind — and yeehawed our way through rush hour traffic. I kept a running prayer that a blood pressure check was not a prerequisite of the shot, because I’m certain mine was through the roof due to the stress of getting to the clinic on time. Every traffic light signaled another spike in my anxiety. Add to that the unfortunate mishap of first going to the wrong clinic, resulting in an even more maniacal sprint to the correct location, that was only about three minutes, but seemingly 3,478 red lights away. But, we made it and while there may not actually have been that many red lights between the clinics, I’m not exaggerating when I say I slept more soundly Monday night than I have in a long time. In fact, this week, I barely needed to adhere to the litany of sleep rituals laid out in my Feb. 19 post. While it’ll be somewhere around the first of April before we hit the vaccine’s full level of efficacy, our relief is palpable.

(Note: LCMC health is now offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. If you aren’t yet eligible, sign up for vaccination eligibility alerts here.)

My husband Mark has asthma, so for us, high-risk indoor activities (think bars, restaurants, museums, galleries, gatherings inside friend’s homes — OK, everything but quick grocery and supply trips), have been off of the table for the past year. So, while we’ll of course still be wearing masks and taking precautions to keep others save (researchers aren’t yet certain if vaccinated people can transmit the virus to those who are unvaccinated), we’ve begun daydreaming about what we’ll do once our vaccinations are at full octane, so to speak, and we can relax a little.

After a tour de hugging of everyone we know who is already vaccinated, my next stop will be at a spa for a massage. I’m not letting myself think too hard about it right now because the notion of another human being’s healing touch and having these godforsaken knots born of a year’s worth of COVID-19 stress massaged out of my back is almost too much to bear without breaking down into tears of yearning. No offense to Mark, because his hugs and occasional quick shoulder rubs are great, but this is a job for a professional. Meanwhile, I know he loves my cooking, but I’m not offended that the first order of business on his agenda will be scattered, covered and served up in a booth at Waffle House. What can I say, opposites attract. Eh, who am I kidding, I’ll be across from him in that booth.

Please continue to take all of the precautions, mask up and, if you are able and eligible, get vaccinated. We are finally, truly in the home stretch of being able to leave our homes. After a year of living in various states of isolation in said homes, it’s at once surprising and not surprising to me that all we really want are hugs from our loved ones, a healing touch, some hospitality and a warm, comforting meal. Of the many lessons we take away from this experience, I hope we all remember that we are interconnected and that, at heart, we human beings are very simple creatures who thrive best with a few basics: water, food, shelter, affection, community and love. OK, for New Orleanians I’ll add an addendum: Music and dancing. I can’t wait to dance in the streets with you all again soon. Until then, stay safe.