Photo by Raven Brown.
By Raven Brown, Opinion Editor
Considering the year we have all had, spring break seemed like a lost cause. With almost everything in California being shut down or restricted and businesses only starting to reopen at 25% capacity in the orange tier, going away for the week seemed like my only plausible option.
Yes, I know the coronavirus is still at the forefront of every conversation and worry. I’m well aware of the risks of flying and traveling during the pandemic. Hate me all you want, but I went to Dallas, Texas over spring break to visit my sister and I had the time of my life.
Just a few weeks before my trip, Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the mask mandate and reopened the state of Texas back to 100% capacity across all businesses. I had my reservations and knew that I was walking into an unfamiliar situation. Not only have I become so accustomed to the prolonged lockdown here in California, but I was getting comments from people that what I was doing was unsafe and irresponsible.
I understand the concerns, I do. But I took the flight and came back in one piece and without getting sick. While the mask mandate was lifted, they were still required to go into stores and restaurants, just like they are here. There was not a huge difference in the way Texas functions in comparison to California.
Everyone was using hand sanitizer, wearing their masks as directed and adhering to social distancing rules. I didn’t experience as much culture shock as I had previously anticipated. Maybe it is because I’m originally from Dallas and felt comfortable with my surroundings, or maybe it was because Los Angeles and Dallas are not as different as they are made out to be.
Much to my surprise, numbers for COVID-19 cases and deaths had started to decline in Texas after the mask mandate was lifted. While I was there, I felt a sense of returning to normalcy and had hope about the pandemic fading out into nothingness. Maybe I was dreaming, or maybe the way of life and overall attitude of the Texans was seeping into my brain. Whatever it was, it felt good to have a moment of clarity.
A misconception I hear about Texas is that they don’t care about the coronavirus or they are being reckless with their rules and regulations. From where I was standing, it didn’t seem that way. COVID-19 is still a very real thing, whether you are on the east or west coast, or smack dab in the middle of the country.
Escaping the pandemic is not an option at this point, but Texas has chosen a different approach that I think works for them. Businesses can return to their pre-pandemic hours and capacity. The city felt like it was thriving and the people there seemed to be happier in general. I hadn’t seen that many smiling faces at once in a very long time. I guess I almost forgot what it was like to be surrounded by positive and uplifting energy, free from excessive worry and judgment.
Coming back to California has always been hard for me. My sister and family all live in Texas and I miss it every time I leave, but this time felt more heartbreaking. Once you get a taste of freedom, it’s hard to walk back into restrictions and rules. I’m not complaining, I’m just being honest. This pandemic has taken its toll on my mental health, as it has for most everyone else. But being in Texas gave me hope that the future isn’t as bleak as it seems. There is life beyond the pandemic, you just have to find it for yourself.