Mr. 11 peered uncertainly through the windows, “I think about half of them are wearing masks, maybe a third. I’m taking mine just in case.” He stuffed his mask into his pocket as we got out of the car. The rest of us followed suit, but I doubted we would have a chance to put them on, and I was pretty sure no one was wearing a mask.
As we neared the front doors, another family was leaving. One child had a mask under her chin. “See?” he whispered. “She has one.”
I nodded grimly.
Then I opened the door and took the kids into a restaurant for the first time since the pandemic began. In the US. With no masks. Both boys stiffened a little, then settled as we were shown to a table in the half-full dining area.
I had to admit that it felt weird to me, too, so much so that Andre and I had considered skipping restaurants altogether, but this is our first road trip in two and a half years, and we have to eat.
We looked at our menus. “This feels weird,” the boys glanced around, “but also normal.” We ordered, the boys played the peg game on the table, and the food was out in no time. It was delicious.
Still, we didn’t order dessert and we didn’t linger. In the car afterwards, Mr 11 asked, “Does anyone in the US wear masks?”
His brother scoffed, “No.”
It’s been almost three years since our boys have been in the US. Despite the fact that they are half American, and despite my increasingly desperate desire to have them to know the US beyond the headlines, this place doesn’t feel like theirs right now, and sometimes I wonder if it ever will.
As we settled in for a little more driving, I did what I could: “Americans may not wear masks as much as Canadians, but I bet we’ll be able to get sausage biscuits with gravy for breakfast.”
They weighed these two truths. After a brief pause, one of them piped up, “Yeah, sausage biscuits are amazing.”
And for one night, the balance was restored.