one year behind a mask

A year ago, the first case of corona virus was reported in Japan. Looking back, it feels difficult to comprehend that it has been a whole year. I so clearly remember the first months when the corona cases started to appear in Tokyo, how fearful I felt stepping outside, how everyone seemed to be panicking, how the shelves went empty, how I was trying to find toilet paper and pasta. And masks.

Before corona I hardly ever wore masks (at least not visible ones), and now suddenly I was wearing one all the time. It was so uncomfortable, I felt shortness of breath, and I was sure that I would never get used to it. Wearing a mask every day meant that our little emergency stock at home soon became depleted, and when I wanted to stock up they were sold out everywhere. As a therapy I made it my mission to find masks for my wife and me – I believe it was more than anything a way of dealing with this new uncertain situation, trying to find some little feeling of being the tiniest bit in control in the scary new world that was unfolding.

All spring I was hoping that the virus would go away before our son was born, but the virus did not go away and instead there was an emergency declaration, I was still wearing a mask together with everyone else and I was still sure that I would never get used to it. Our son was born without me being allowed to be there to welcome him (even with a mask), and we spent a summer without our families and friends being able to see him. We hid in our little apartment, took walks outside (wearing masks of course) in uncrowded places at uncrowded times and enjoyed the magic of a new life at home (without masks).

Autumn came and we managed to go to Fukuoka to visit my wife’s parents while giving up the hope of going to Sweden for Christmas. The masks we brought to Fukuoka was a different brand from the ones we had used before, they were a bit smaller I believe and so I got pain from the rubber band behind my ear and I felt more sure than ever that I would never get used to wearing them.

Now it is January and there is a new emergency declaration in Tokyo. This time though, there are plenty of toilet paper, pasta and masks in the stores and people do not seem to be overly bothered; it is more difficult than ever to find uncrowded places to enjoy uncrowded walks. And one more thing is different this time – as much as I hate to say it, I have slightly started to get used to wearing the painful pieces of paper in front of my face. I still do not like it, I still feel shortness of breath as soon as I put he mask on, I still feel like it takes all the joy out of going outside, but somehow this is starting to feel like normal.

What I am sure of now however, is that I will never get used to the feeling that wearing masks feels like normal. And I so hope I will not need to write a follow-up to this post one year from now to see if I was right this time.

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2 thoughts on “one year behind a mask”

  1. Johanna Jormfeldt

    As I am lucky enough to live my life in a very not crowded way, I can just imagine how uncomfortable it must be to wear a mask. In all this year I haven’t needed to put one on yet. A funny thing is that the mask seems to symbolize a lot. For some people the mask is more of an ideological statement than a matter of minimizing corona risks. Perhaps I should put a mask on after all, to show you my support? 😉

    1. You could try wearing a mask as a fashion statement as well 😉 – there are so many fancy masks available these days! Please take care with or without mask.

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