This isn’t a letter intended to excoriate the unvaccinated. It’s not even a letter thanking my fellow vaccine recipients for doing their part to keep us safe. This is a letter to those who wrote messages on the bulletin boards at Music City Center, in the large room where we waited for those blissful post-jab 15 minutes before we pocketed our COVID-19 vaccination cards and went home. The colorful collages read “Why I Chose to Vaccinate,” and hundreds of Nashvillians contributed messages of unbridled hope.
Some reflected the pastimes we missed — seeing live music, watching sporting events with buddies, convening with one’s congregation at church. Others couldn’t wait to hug — parents, grandparents, friends, classmates. I wrote about squeezing my niece and nephew, who live out of state.
Some were deeply personal. “For my mom who is receiving chemo,” wrote one person.
“The vaccine didn’t come in time to save my dad,” another wrote. “I got vaccinated in hopes you won’t have to bury yours.”
There were beacons of joy and promise: “Because I’m gonna be a DAD.”
But what got me most were the messages that leaned into the banal: “To do my part.” “Because no one is safe until everyone is safe.” “Because I care.” If I learned anything about daily life during lockdown, it’s that what I long regarded as the mundane, unsexy stuff of living — working beside my colleagues, looking at my husband across the table at a restaurant, holding the door open for the next person — is sacred. My strength, my hope for our world, lies not in books or art or career, but in this community of strangers.
As one person simply wrote, “I love the world.”
Thank you for reminding me that I do too.
Culture Editor, Nashville Scene