Lonely in a crowd

Crowds worry me.

It’s not a new thing. I’m not a terrifically social person. But a trip to the beach showed me a new element to my discomfort with crowds. Now I’m worried about a virus.

I went to a state beach in Connecticut. It was, my son assured me as I drove there and he and his family waited on the beach, not too crowded. They’d arrived at 9 a.m.

I got there by 11 a.m. There was nowhere to park. It took me 15 minutes to find my family in the crush of people filling the beach.

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“I can’t believe this,” my son said.

We didn’t stay long. If I’d taken a picture, it would have looked like every “look at these idiots” picture people have posted since beaches started reopening. No distancing, no masks. Fresh air, everyone seemed to conclude, eliminated any risks. I doubt the fresh air was up to the challenge it faced.

Now I’m wondering – should I be isolating, just in case? Am I being paranoid? I do not want to be the person who spreads this thing. I don’t want to be the idiot who let down my guard too soon and put other people at risk.

It’s another side effect of coronavirus: free-floating anxiety.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.