When I finally arrived and I checked in, my fears dissipated quickly. Inside the centre I was greeted by a floor to ceiling self-sustaining living wall. While the library, pool and other recreational spaces had been closed for a year, this living, breathing wall of green continued to flourish and purify the space. It reminded me of the stunning walls which calmed and comforted me when I was stranded in Detroit mid-pandemic. Things turned out okay then.
Vaccinations can be anxiety provoking for many reasons but living in a locked down area brings new urgency to the need for these. I live in a hot spot which borders on another larger even more problematic area. Living at work (aka working from home), has been tough. I have spent up to 24 hours a day working, living and sleeping in my small doored space. This included two weeks with no individual contact in the fall and extra time caring for my ailing dog who passed in March.
Though residents were promised efficient and equitable booking for vaccines, our reality has been different. Instead of a central portal, a confusing network of overlapping systems now exists. I managed to get an appointment after my spouse spotted an online update and emailed me with urgency. The first opening was several weeks away and in the meantime several clinics in the region were cancelled due to supply issues.
Concerned that I might be missing a vital step, the day before my appointment I scanned websites, my cell and email. I reread my initial confirmation and made sure my transportation to the site was on track. I had a 10-minute window to arrive and check in. I calmed my nerves with some gardening tasks until a man came into my yard and tried to sneak behind me to get into our garage. I quickly retreated to safety and closed the garage door firmly behind me. Until meeting the green wall, it had been a stressful day.
The glass walls to the large vaccination space are covered in multi-colored self-stick notes with messages of gratitude, hope and thanks for the efforts of the workers. Before I exited the space, I took the time to add my own positive message.
I hope that many others will successfully navigate their way to a vaccine soon. It will be several more months before I return to get the second vaccine dose. In the meantime, I will reflect upon the garden of notes. I will remember the living green wall, silently watching and breathing out pure air while it waits for all people to return.