My wife and I recently went to the supermarket for the first time in a year. It was actually fun.

We got to pick out our own vegetables and do a little impulse buying. Had lobster cakes for dinner that night.

It was strange to discover that something that had always been a chore felt like a lark. That feeling didn’t last, of course.

But it led me to reflect on how much my life had changed, and how much it hadn’t. It’s kind of hard to tell because there are other things in the mix. I’m a year older, for one thing.

Still, I have it easy. I have great sympathy for those who were hit hard by the pandemic. I’m retired, don’t have to work, am relatively healthy, and I’m engaged in various things. Now I’m vaccinated.

I think those in the prime of life have it hardest. Daughter Kim, for instance, graciously and cheerfully did our grocery shopping week after week during our one-year lockdown. She has a family of her own, a new job and plenty of things to do. So many people are in comparable situations.

The next hardest hit group, I think, are schoolchildren. Their lives have been disrupted and the effects have been profound.

There was a poignant story by Sun Chronicle reporter Kayla Canne. (“Parents express frustration, shock over changes to Attleboro Virtual Academy,” April 15.)

The story told of the distress of some parents who had enrolled their children in an all-remote learning program to lessen the risk of getting sick while at the same time providing more continuity in their education.

Unfortunately, guidelines and requirements for in-school learning changed during the year and the school department reacted by dropping three remote classrooms, transferring students to other remote classrooms and reassigning teachers to classes that students physically attended. No wonder the parents were upset.

For another example think of the disruption in sports programs and arts programs. I don’t buy the contention of some experts who say children won’t be affected longterm. I think every child has been affected, most of them adversely.

And, of course, hundreds of thousands of people have suffered or died from this virus or endured unbearable losses.

So, in comparison to others I am indeed fortunate, in fact lucky. Sure, I worry about getting older, and an underlying health condition is in the back of my mind, but I no longer feel vulnerable. That is liberating.

You can’t predict the future. For right now I think it’s reasonable for me to hope that I’ve escaped COVID-19 and if I got it I would survive a case of this flu or its variants.

Being in lockdown for over a year has had its effects. I realize my various foibles have been exacerbated and my world has contracted. Did you know that if you stack yogurt containers and flatten Amazon boxes you can put out the recycling once a month instead of every two weeks? Got to get back to bigger things.

As I go about my life, I’ll continue to take the standard precautions and make adjustments where appropriate, like meeting someone for lunch, outside.

I’ll probably have the same feeling my wife described on that first grocery shopping trip. She bought an apple. It was bright red and shiny. She didn’t know or care what kind of apple it was. She said she might not even eat it. It just called to her.

NED BRISTOL is a retired editor of The Sun Chronicle.

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