Friday, January 14, 2022

First work flight since March 2020: howdy San Antonio

When I flew back from a school visit in Ohio on 3/13/20, little did I know it would be the last such trip for a while. Like the rest of the world, I was about to enter virtual reality.

I would not present in person again until June 2021, and that was to teach creative writing camps at schools near me—so not my traditional assembly talk (and no flight required, and masked). 

My first pandemic assembly was at my daughter’s school in Germany in August 2021. Though I did fly to get there, I’d gone for other reasons and this opportunity came up last minute; plus it was pro bono. In other words, not yet a true return to form (though a huge pleasure). I was on a stage, socially distanced from the audience, and this was during the golden (yet brief) period when vaccinated people felt safe without a mask in certain situations. 

My next in-person was in October 2021, but close to home and pro bono. It was my first outdoors school visit. It was at the point when the Delta surge was in the rear view and Omicron had yet to rear its ugly droplet, so I did not wear a mask while presenting (and did not go near the students till I put one on).

My first paid in-person school visit since COVID began was in December 2021, in Delaware (driving distance from me). Boosted, and with Omicron still not a confirmed threat in the U.S., the school allowed me to present without a mask (again, I still kept at least six feet from students). 

The first more complete taste of school visit life pre-COVID came this week, when I flew to San Antonio, TX, to present at five elementary schools (four in NISD and one in NBISD). But, of course, changes abounded. Every morning before leaving the hotel, I took a rapid test. Though one of the schools said I did not need to keep my mask on while speaking, and though many students and teachers in some of the schools did not wear masks, I kept my N95 on the whole time (except for the brief Q&A at one school, since I was far from the kids). 

Thank you Tammy, Karen, Angela, Elizabeth, and Michelle for making this possible!

I’ve done virtual talks throughout the pandemic, which involved a learning curve but a welcome one. So while that kept up my muscle memory for presenting, this Texas trip threw me back into the headspace of the logistics of traveling…things you wouldn’t think you’d forget but can become hazy with disuse. Things like arranging a rental car and smart packing for a school visit.

If nature cooperates, I will be flying to speak in North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, and Michigan before the two-year anniversary of the official start of the pandemic. 

Nature…please cooperate. I’ve missed this. 

Except the part about renting cars.

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