Oh gosh, it was hard being disciplined this month. I didn’t write nearly as regularly as I have been writing – puppy, kids, work, life – and I am determined not to let June be the same. Let’s see how I go. In any case, a little snippet from May. This is unedited, unpolished, un-everything, but it is words on a page and that’s my goal this year. Words on a page, working on personal essay writing, working on writing habitually. It’s so much easier said than done.
To read a little bit more about the bigger project the following is an excerpt from, click on over to January.
In the first week of May, they open vaccination appointments up to group 3. I am in group 3. I have already emailed my GP and my Frauenartzt, the former so hugely overwhelmed they don’t respond to three emails and have notices all over their website, do not call us, do not even think about picking up the phone to call us. When the state government opens up the online registration for group 3, hundreds of thousands of people are waiting on multiple devices – us too – and somehow, somehow, we get through on my husband’s computer. The appointments, though, disappear as we click on them and it takes twenty minutes of fruitless clicking through the hundreds of potential appointments, before a cancellation opens up and we snag it. May 13th, first shot. Second shot, June 17th.
My vaccination appointment is not far from our favourite beach, a beautiful drive, once out of the city, past canola fields and paddocks, the Baltic Sea on the left. I cry, of course I cry, in strange, quick spurts. Relief fills the space, suddenly, and it’s a relief I didn’t expect to feel yet. To feel, yes, but farther down the track, when the vaccinations have done their job and we don’t need masks all the time and Australia lets us in again. I thought the vaccination would feel more like the beginning of something, less like the end, but I suppose they’re one and the same because it’s there, a rush of air, a ballooning, a flock of black cockatoos on a baking summer’s afternoon. How white our knuckles have been.
The temporary vaccination centre is some sort of youth club building, manned by the Bundeswehr. In the white marquee I hand over my sheaf of papers for the first of three times, then disinfect my hands, and hand them over to the next person. Everyone is in such high spirits, the air has the same buoyancy it had in the car, on the drive over. I sit outside the first doctor’s room and am soon called in. Many retired doctors have jumped back in to help out and I think he’s one of them. He’s perched up behind plexiglass, looking like Santa Claus. He looks at my passport and pales. Australierin. Aber ich muss nicht Englisch, oder? I reassure him we don’t have to speak English and he asks me if I have any questions. When I ask him if I’m allowed a glass of wine, he’s moments from waving his hand and telling me a glass won’t hurt when he catches himself and delivers the ‘better safe than sorry’ line. I almost want to tap my nose. The next doctor hears my non-German ‘r’ sound in ‘sorry’ and cheerfully asks if he may ask if I am German. He isn’t either and we trill our goodbyes in English. I am swept along to the recovery room, and everyone who enters and exits it after me, has the same spring in their step, is swept along by the same invisible current. I wait for fifteen minutes, staring out at a green field, feeling like you do when you’re at the tail-end of a memorably strange dream and it’s time to wake up. There is always this moment when you’re in the in-betweeen, when the realness of the dream recedes and you know it’s over and it’s time to leave … but just for a moment, you hover in this lovely light space, unneeded, safe in the knowledge the weirdness wasn’t forever, that morning has dawned and you’re okay.