Oh, these dreams. The other day I was working for the Queen of England, relocating offices. Last night I was trying to find a seat on a crowded plane. Always moving it seems, these dreams are as real as I am typing right now on this laptop. Thankfully I do not wake tired, and as long as they don’t scare, I’m okay with an overactive imagination.

Here’s what I am NOT okay with … the freeze warning I just heard on my Father’s weather alert notification thingy. I never minded these warnings until I moved into this poor wee cottage and the first time the pipes froze. Oh, I did all the stuff you’re supposed to, short of becoming a property manager: Allow faucets to drip, open cabinets to untrap cold air, turn heat up … da nada. It took almost 3 days for the pipes to thaw and sent me to a hotel. A hotel is not an option right now … so cross fingers this place is overlooked by Mother Nature.

Yesterday my very close family friends delivered via post handmade masks. It was lovely of Ellen and Kyle. Just lovely. Ellen’s running out of fabric, so I’m even more grateful to be included in her seamstress efforts.

Such an odd turn in the world. Seeking people who can sew. I feel almost embarrassed for being so inadequate.

I’m very much against of drawing attention to myself, which is why I never dyed my hair blue or wear bright colours or patterns. Walking around with a facial cover is right up there, in my book, with “look at me, look at me” attention that I loath. But I knew I was going to have to get one eventually, and yesterday was the first time I wore a mask out in public. I felt ridiculous, uncoordinated, self conscious and nervous.

Since March 18th, I have only gone to three places. A local grocery for food supplies once a week. A local wine seller twice since mid March. And a local store run by a Mr. Kim, once a week or so.

It’s been Mr Kim who has repeatedly told me I need to wear a mask. He said in Korea citizens wear masks as a lifestyle. He further explained, almost pleading, that a mask was to protect me and protect him. He says wash hands sure, but I need to protect my face. He’s mentioned this every time I’ve gone into his neighbourhood store these last 35 days.

Well, yesterday I went to his store, and when I walked in … he smiled broadly enough for me to see it through his own disguise. He pointed to his own face and said: Good, you have one now. Very Good. Much better. And as I was checking out, I could tell that this individual was genuinely calmer in my presence than in my previous visits.

What I’m about to say is not a WOW moment. But instead something I observed. For the first time since all this global nightmare began, by merely wearing a mask as I patronised a local storekeeper, I witnessed the physical frame of an acquaintance drop from being friendly-yet-polite-tense to being friendly-and-relieved.

I’ve seen Mr. Kim maybe 5 times since this started. He has people in his place every day, all day long. Not a chain grocery store, he’s a tiny general market open so locals can buy a single roll of paper towels, or soap or peanut butter without the stress of going to the larger businesses. I appreciate this option enormously, even before all of this mess.

I’ve always liked Mr. Kim’s style. His business has been around for over 20 years. And I want to do my part to keep it going where I can, just as much as he doesn’t want to lose his life’s work. And I like the convenience his store offers to do a quick shop. It’s symbiotic without a doubt. But so what?

The mask may be for me, for sure. But not as much as it is for the peace of mind of another human being like Mr. Kim. That’s it. That’s all it took. As I left Mr. Kim said that he’ll see me next week. Mr. Kim has never said that to me before.

Community in the time of Corona.

Happy Tuesday.

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