After learning about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in China and Hong Kong (my birth place), My wife Jenny and I had many fruitless searches of locating latex gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer. Eventually, my mother-in-law gave us a box of disposable face masks to tide us over.
Jenny and I donned our face masks whenever we go outside. It is uncomfortable to wear face masks, especially they fogged up our eyeglasses. At times, wearing a mask in public as a Chinese-American invites unpleasant glances. After a couple of weeks, new hygiene habits were formed, and I was getting comfortable at wearing masks.
As pandemic worsens and New York State enacted stay-at-home order, my family and I are doing our part - our daily routine just mostly consists of watching TV, eat and sleep. Occasionally we go to social media to chat up with friends and family and get our news. Increasingly, news reports of anti-Asian assaults and harassment popped up everywhere in the social media. These face masks, which provide assurances of safety, are now complicated with the notion that this country has an ongoing debate of who is an American.
To add on the layers of feelings, these face masks represent the sad reality that face covering may become our routine even outside of pandemic times. Even so, I look forward to the days when I can wear a reusable cloth face mask outside because that means my wife and I can again enjoy a meal at our favorite dim sum restaurant.