Privilege – and Alum Rock park memories
I have been negligent in writing for quite some time. Part of it is because every time I think I should write something I get writers block – I feel like I have nothing to say.
For the first time in over a year, my friends in California got together. They met outdoors at a local part for a hike. They wore masks the whole time – and yet, some were not yet comfortable enough to join in. I have no idea what I would think – but I’d likely be at least partially vaccinated at this point – because I’m privileged and I know how the system works. My connections to multi healthcare systems would have made it easier for me to access the vaccine. My health literacy would also have made it easier for me.
Here, privilege still plays a role, just not as much of one. Privilege means that immediately upon availability of appointments for my age group, I was able to go onto the computer, and wait my turn in the queue in order to book an appointment. I didn’t have work commitments preventing me from waiting on the first day the vaccines were available. However, I also know that within a couple of days anyone within my age range was able to get onto the system and book an appointment. Now, my appointment isn’t until early next week. Hubby got into the system just as they released more appointments, so he actually gets his vaccine tomorrow (he is in a younger age-range). But where we are, a few days isn’t going to make a huge difference. I’m just happy to be getting a vaccine soon. I’ll get to see how he reacts to it before I go through it, which could be good or bad!
It is a bit ironic that my friends are getting together at a time when we are in lock down. We spent most of last year able to visit friends within the province. We haven’t been able to go out of province, so have not yet visited family, but we could visit friends from within the province. We even had various people over for lunch on several occasions. That has been our privilege. Now we are in lock down. This is taken very seriously – which is how we were able to avoid the earlier outbreaks, but the variants spread so much faster, that they make even small gatherings a risk.
I miss being able to see my friends. They are still not able to hug, which is huge change in culture for our community – who often show support for one another or greet one another with a hug. But they are able to see each other in physical form, and that is a real blessing after this last year. I miss hiking with them.
I’ll add a layer of feelings associated with their hike. They chose to hike at Alum Rock park. This is where Lori and I hiked together all the time. I started hiking there on my own as I was recovering from my major surgery. From the lower (free) parking lot, I could follow a lovely path that had benches at just the right distances. It was a perfect place for me to slowly work up my endurance.
A couple of years later it was the go-to place for Lori and I. It was Lori’s favourite park. It was the park that was in her ‘backyard’ throughout her childhood. So many memories of her life were associated with hikes in that park. We talked about it all the time.
Seeing the photos of my friends hiking there now brings back so many nice memories. I can smell the trees – interestingly, I often wondered why people were hiking with chai tea? I’d smell it now and then on my hikes, always assuming that is what it was. It wasn’t the eucalyptus trees, as there scent was familiar. This was different. A few year later I learned that what I was smelling was actually the California Bay tree (I don’t recall ever seeing the nuts) – I even picked a few leaves on occasion as a substitute for the more traditional ‘bay leaf’ in recipes – but I found I didn’t like it as much. I did enjoy the scent of it while hiking. It is a smell that will always remind me of hiking in California, and more specifically on hiking along the west side of Alum Rock park.
My iPad also seems to know about these memories, as it has been showing me various selfies that Lori and I took on our hikes. I’m so very glad we started doing that when we did. Those are memories of such an important time in my life. Lori will forever be in my heart.
Funny, when I sat down to write this post I felt like I had nothing to say. But I do. I guess I should get back into the habit of writing something more often.