Do you remember where you were when that second dose of Moderna claimed you?
I was jacked up on Walmart-grade vitamins and the finest Northwest Arkansas tap water my monthly bill payment would allow 48 hours in advance of my two PM Thursday appointment in Cherokee Nation. I asked for a change on my immunization card to “F” as people often confused me for a “Simon” instead of a “Simone”. I usually assume good intent that this is just a way folks resist any French influence in their presence. As a biracial Cambodian, I get it. Fuck the French, but please don’t butcher my name.
The vaccination worker lifted my dress sleeve ready to pierce that second vaccine into my skin. Did I mention that I hate needles? Once a guy in grad school workshopped his poem and each line was an accurate detail about a needle. I remember throwing up in my mouth. Either the poem was that good or the fear was that bad.
I looked down to the passenger floorboard and saw that my bulldog squeezed all 60 pounds of her wrinkled flesh into an unforgivable brindled puddle. It didn’t matter if the travel was 15 minutes or one hour. Coco feared rides more than I feared needles. It was nice to have something more afraid than I was in the car. That was my reasoning for saying how my dog was emotionally supporting me. Not to get Coco confused with an actual emotional support dog because that would be wrong and possibly unethical.
“It’s okay, Coco! We’ll be home soon!” I said.
“I didn’t even see your dog down there!” She stabbed my arm. “She’s such a good dog.”
She placed an Iron Man band-aid over the injection site and mentioned something about not even bleeding. I’m not typically a bleeder. I try to avoid bleeding as much as possible, but can bleed fairly well if the occassion calls for it.
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First came the chills. It was six hours later. I first associated these chills with inspiration or Spirits speaking through me. Unlike the difference between an emotional support dog and a dog’s presence emotionally supporting me, inspiration and Spirit chills are most definitely the same things. My favorite inspiration chill is standing in the sun at the right angle. It’s a type of chill that echos a light and unexpected kiss.
First set of chills, I hear you.
Second set of chills, I’m paying attention.
Third set of chills…Holy Dolly Parton. It’s the Moderna.
I spent two days in bed or on the couch rethinking my entire existence since 2019. Neighbors texted saying they saw my friend Nancy walking Coco, so the second dost must have gotten me bad. One woman would later see me crawling down the uphill sidewalk to take Coco out. She would end our brief neighborly chit chat with a comment on how horrible I looked. That day I went from an Arkansas 7 to a Swamp Thing 5.
So, what was there left for me to do? It was spring and the uptick of eligible men actively soliticing my texting company was at an all time high with one.
Our initial texting exchanges lasted a solid four days sometime in February during a freak snowstorm. He asked me what my top five favorite recreational drugs were. I asked if he was still employed by the city. An invite to drinks was eventually given to which I accepted…to which he then promptly canceled because of a college basketball game.
I get it. Nothing says I’m serious about dating again then joining a dating app, confirming a date, and then canceling the date to watch college boys run up and down a court fighting over a singular ball. If he would have kept the date, he would have learned that I cannot go longer than 45 minutes sitting across from a complete stranger. It’s a rule for me. Or it’s just plain anxiety. Sometimes boredom. Some call me picky. I call myself “not divorced.”
He didn’t reach back out to me until two months later.
Two whole damn months.
The android buzzed twice to roast me. He asked for a do-over.
I was shaking in the couch corner with a bag of frozen peas bobbing up and down on the injection site. My forearm was sore and had been throbbing for hours. It was as if my heart, anticipating some sort of low-key fuckery, severed herself from every artery and became an angry hermit at the injection site.
I think in my 20s I would have leapt at the chance for a redo. But I had a Dolly Parton sponsored shot generously shared with me from the Cherokee Nation with the idol spirit of Iron Man surrounding me with protection, love, and common sense wisdom.
You don’t wait to see what happens with a life-saving vaccine that’s been tested by the experts. You take it and say thank you.
You don’t accept a date from a man who waited two months to make getting to know you a priority. You tell him that you’re in a really great place in your life right now, even if that looks like going through Covid-19 hell-lite, and decline.
We still have standards.