These days most zoom calls I’m in on or overhear begin and end with discussions about vaccination. How did you get your slot? Which shot did you get? Any side effects? Have you had the second? Where did you end up going? If you’ve heard enough, scroll on because I got my first vaccine today and I’m gonna write about it!
It was at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston and what a well-run operation it was. The navy was there! There was NO waiting. Given how badly our (Republican) governor rolled out the vaccines during Phase I and II, I wasn’t sure how it’d go.
I registered for an appointment through the state’s mega-vaccine-site-site (think Fenway Park) and didn’t expect to hear back, honestly. So when my primary care doctor offered me a slot, I took it even though it was a month off.
Then the state-run operation came through with a slot two full weeks earlier. I grabbed it. Amazing how long two weeks feels in the new terrain of waiting for immunity.
Getting there: my map app arbitrarily goes mute when I can least afford it, so I wrote the three critical turns on a slip of paper. Super old-school, I know. Finding the parking garage entrance was the only part I was worried about. And maybe the path on foot through the guts of the Prudential Center. I get turned around even in malls that have linear east/west layouts, so… (it’s intentional on the part of the designers, I’ve read, but who am I kidding?)
A trip somewhat familiar, and yet? It’s been a long time since I jumped in the car and routinely went places. Even a run to Staples in the next town over gave me pause recently. But since this errand fell in the realm of reclaiming my life, it felt important to go alone.
I calculated that I needed to leave forty-five minutes early in order to arrive at a reasonable time. They wanted you there fifteen minutes early.
I got the very first spot in the garage. I mean — steps away from the gate. If I’d retraced the car’s route to street level, I’d have reached the auditorium in minutes, without a second of disorientation. Sky, buildings, curbs. Alas, I had to use the elevator and make my way through the Pru’s “lobby.”
When I hear “lobby,” I think of a large shiny entry way with a chandelier. Maybe a few clusters of tasteful plants and seating. This was not that. It was a labyrinthine path through corridor after corridor with left turns, right turns, and not much signage.
I landmarked along the way, already worried about finding my way back. Was surprised to pass my old law firm, Ropes & Gray. I’d forgotten they switched towers once upon a time. Walked under a hideous art installation of crumpled netting and crystals, but was grateful for it because well-designed or not, it was memorable. Eataly (cute!) offering Mediterranean fare. Coffee shops (with lines!). Most establishments were closed. Lots of signs telling you to “look up” which I found weird.
It took a long time, all this walking. Did I mention they wanted you there fifteen minutes early? More turns. And a few more, and at last — there was the line into the auditorium.
I am routinely punctual, but today I impressed even myself. When I queued up to the entrance (the first and only wait of the process, by the way), I checked the time. Sixteen minutes. I was sixteen minutes early. Or, to put it another way: I was almost exactly on time.
Navy troops ushered us along. “Get your ID out.” My registration form flapping. The vaccination space was gigantic and I mean gigantic.
Again, zero wait. “Go to B5.” There a young navy guy administered my shot. He told me he’s here for eight weeks, from Minnesota by way of Virginia. The magnolia are blooming in Virginia, I know, so I felt a little bad for him. “MAYBE you’ll get some nice weather while you’re here,” I joked. It was 29 degrees when I left the house.
During the mandatory post-shot wait period (another vast space), I almost immediately got a text to schedule shot number two. At the exit, I was handed a parking voucher. Did I mention what a well-run operation this was?
But then, the trek back. Going to protests in Boston, I’d learned to photograph my parking level, so I knew I was looking for the North Garage, Level 5. But I had to get there first.
Oh, look! There’s Eataly! Oh look! Here I am walking under the clumps of netting and they’re still hideous!
There was only one point in the long, non-linear route back to the car when I wasn’t sure if I’d made the correct turn, but low and behold, there on the marble wall: Ropes & Gray. Well, then.
Once back on the turnpike, I felt such relief. Thought, “I’m going home.” Home and all that might mean. I felt lighter. I tried to imagine how the same route’s gonna feel in three weeks, and couldn’t quite.
When I walked in the door, husband joked, “Did Yoyo Ma serenade you?”
Alas, no. But it didn’t matter.