This year, after 2 years of spending my birthday mostly alone and at home, I decided to celebrate with my friends doing my favorite thing in the whole world: karaoke. In the days, weeks, and months leading up to my birthday, I hesitated a lot, constantly expressing to my partner that I should and would cancel any reservations and forgo having a social birthday for at least one more year. He talked me down frequently, reminding me that we are fully vaccinated and fully boosted as well, that our friends know how cautious we have been and especially how cautious I have been and would not risk infecting me if there was any reason to believe they could.
So I went and I had an incredible time on Friday evening. A staff member at the karaoke establishment recognized me from my previous birthdays celebrated there and pulled me up on the (new-to-me since 2019) stage to celebrate and pour sparkling wine into stranger party-goers’ mouths and generally be merry. It was a fulfillment of a wish I never even dared to make.
On Sunday, already a little hoarse and tired from an evening of singing for my life after having not sung for years, I screamed and cried and cheered as Argentina won their first world cup in decades, cementing Leo Messi’s status as one of the greatest to ever play the beautiful game.
On Monday, I went about my day and cooked a big pot of soup for myself, my partner, and my brother who was staying with us until his new lease started a few weeks later. I recall feeling the effects of all the singing and screaming of the weekend on my throat, and having been so busy with the day that I was uncharacteristically dehydrated. My lips and hands were dry, and my head was starting to hurt, not quite bad enough to call a migraine but enough that I realized I hadn’t had very much water at all that day, a bit embarrassing to realize as the person at work who reminds everyone to drink water. The three of us cleaned up after dinner and sat down to play video games together when I started feeling chilly. “Are you two cold at all?” I asked. Neither of them felt cold, but I had pretty distinct chills.
A knot of anxiety formed in my gut and I excused myself to take my temperature and also a COVID test, just in case. My temperature was normal, so I wasn’t experiencing a fever, but I wanted to see the negative test just to be safe. I swabbed my nose, set a timer for 15 minutes, went to the bathroom, and came back 3 minutes later to make sure the test was working correctly, bracing myself mentally for maybe that faint wisp of a line that you can barely see.