A couple months ago I booked my first two gigs since the before times for this week. I booked them before the mask mandate was lifted and then brought back. The first was a wedding at a winery, and the second was a recording studio the next morning. I had never met any of the people I would be working with.
The whole drive to the wedding, I wondered if I had been stupid. Instead of being excited, I was worried. I had to stop and ask a construction guy at a gas station for directions and he looked at me like I was a Martian. I guess because I’m the only person on Earth who doesn’t use GPS or something? But he also thought it was weird that I was on my way to a winery at 7:30 PM. He said, “You’re going there so late?” Still looking at me like I was a Martian. None of his fucking business, but I smiled and said, “I’m playing at a wedding.”
I got a little of the old gig excitement when I drove up the winery entrance. The winery sat atop a hill with acres of open land around it. Its patios, strung with thousands of white lights, beckoned in the warm evening air and clear dusk sky. I parked, and it occurred to me that no one was ON the patios. I hadn’t bothered to ask whether the gig would be outdoors because 1. I’ve played enough gigs to know that the answers you get are right about 40% of the time and 2. Who the hell would have a wedding indoors at a gorgeous winery in August during a pandemic?
These people, that’s who. I met the band outside and watched the wedding party and guests dining in a big, beautiful room with its many big, beautiful doors shut. Part of me felt like I should back out, but I had committed! The guys had forgotten to bring my music, so I would be trying to make shit up to sound like part of a tight cover band horn section. How much was I going to contribute? Either the keyboard guy or the leader asked me if I was okay soloing, and I said yes. Hey, something to contribute! Well, at least I was going to prop open those fucking doors when I got in. Younger me wouldn’t have dared.
And at least I probably wouldn’t be spreading Covid to THEM. Until two weeks before, I hadn’t seen anyone indoors unmasked and very few outdoors unmasked. I was vaccinated. I had been so careful! In the week leading up to the gig, I had seen two people indoors, separately, unmasked. It had felt like a big risk, and yet so much less risky than what just about everyone else seems to be doing.
So I asked the friendly sax player to open the doors nearest us (luckily I was standing RIGHT by some) and asked a guest to open the doors opposite (no one complained, yay) and played the gig. Good band with great singers. There were no horn solos.
The next morning I got a text. One of the two people I had seen indoors without a mask the previous week had come down with symptoms the following day and tested positive for Covid. I looked up the CDC recommendations, which seemed to say I should quarantine. I texted the person I had the recording gig with and she was very nice and said I could come separately from everyone else after they were done, and I said I would get back to her. My friends insisted that schools were not having people quarantine if they were vaccinated and had no symptoms, so I called the Kaiser advice line and they confirmed this. I just had to mask. I still wanted to record after everyone else had left, so I went in the evening and walked masked through the room with all the (reeeaaally nice) sound stuff and the masked band leader and masked sound man and into my own room, where I played pretty well and felt like a real musician–a feeling I’ve missed so much.
The thing is, I feel like most people don’t get told they were exposed. In fact, the person didn’t even call to tell me they were exposed. They told me they had Covid and I asked when they’d started getting symptoms, and I looked up how long before symptoms you’re contagious. (About 48 hours btw.)
I don’t know, y’all. I feel like I was so much more careful than most people, and frankly I’m tired of it. 18 months of watching most people go out lot more than I’ve been doing. I feel like maybe all we can do is get vaccinated and hope for the best. I think we should mask indoors, and I don’t think the kids who are too young to get vaccinated should be in school. But mostly I feel tired and confused. I’m worrying so much about ONE event that no one else in the room seemed worried about. Were they quietly worried? Certainly the bride wasn’t or she wouldn’t have planned an indoor wedding. I don’t want to go overboard and just go crazy, but should I loosen up a bit? Should I take more gigs? Despite the worry, it sure felt good. I don’t know if I can explain how much I’ve missed it. Oh and a week after exposure, I still feel fine. Fingers crossed!