Plenty of movies over the years have utilized the “fish out of water” concept, pulling the main characters out of their comfortable, familiar world and putting them – either comically or dangerously – in an environment that’s totally foreign to them. Time-travel movies like Back to the Future are good examples. So are movies that transplant characters from big, bustling cities to small, laid-back rural areas. Or vice versa. Crocodile Dundee manages to do both, between New York City and the Australian Outback.

The reason I’m thinking about “fish out of water” situations is that it suddenly occurred to me I may soon be in one. Same for all of us who have been tucked away at home for most of the past year, going out only when absolutely necessary, in keeping with coronavirus safety guidelines.

It’s not as if I’ve been living in a cave up in the mountains of Tibet for a year. But I do feel as though I’ve been somewhat sequestered from the outside world. And I’ve gotten used to it. Which is not to say I enjoyed it, just that I accepted it as necessary for dealing with – and combatting – the COVID pandemic.

But now, with more and more people getting vaccinated, and with the possibility of herd immunity being just a few months away, I’m looking forward to coming out in the open once again. Attending meetings and events in person. Going out to dinner. Getting together with friends and neighbors. And traveling to visit family.

I realize, though, that precautions will still be necessary for quite a while, and that getting back to normal will not be the way it used to be. That’s the fish-out-of-water part. I’ve already started talking to my kids about what the proper procedure will be when we see each other for the first time in well over a year. Can we give each other a hug and a kiss? Or should we do elbow bumps instead? Do we wear masks when we first walk into the house? These aren’t things we’ve ever had to think about before, let alone discuss out loud before going near each other. But now we do.

I know this might sound like paranoia on my part, but I don’t see it that way. I don’t feel panicked or paranoid. I just want to make sure everyone is safe and feels comfortable with each other. It’s going to be a while before that seems natural and normal again. But I’m eager to get started.

The “fish out of water” movies always end on an upbeat note, with the heroes either back in familiar territory or comfortable in their new one. Either way, they’re stronger and wiser than they were at the start of the movie.

I hope mine turns out that way, too.

March 6, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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