For the first time in a while, I attended a large family event and didn’t think twice about hugging cousins, aunts and uncles. For more than a year, we didn’t hold these get-togethers at all. And the first time a cousin hosted one on his farm in early 2021, I elected not to go. The fear of catching Covid-19 and spreading it to vulnerable people kept me at home, although I intensely wanted to see my deep-rooted, warm, loving family. The next time they held a gathering I went and felt thankful that it was outdoors. We chatted around a fire pit on a cold, sunny day, and I left with the smell of wood smoke lingering in my hair and on my clothes.
This time, though, it was no holds barred. We hugged, laughed, teased and held hands to pray. We had a newcomer in our midst, a girlfriend who braved meeting the extended family, and she was drawn in. It felt amazing to not think about contagion and infection — just love.
While I’m writing this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a moving, seven-day average of 34,778 Covid cases. Compare that with mid-January when omicron seemed to be everywhere and the CDC reported a moving average of 792,560 cases. We’re keeping an eye on the latest variant, but for now it feels like we’re all breathing a sigh of relief.
This lifting of constant worry made such a difference in industry events, as well. ISPA EXPO 2022 was wonderful. After the initial outbreak of the pandemic made the decision to cancel ISPA EXPO 2020 so painful but also so necessary, it was a thrill to be in one space again. Spates of Zoom calls, while useful, cannot hold a candle to being together in person.
The show was the first event I’d attended in a long time that felt something akin to normal. Because of the International Sleep Products Association’s requirements for Covid testing or proof of vaccination, I felt comfortable walking the floor without a mask. No fogged glasses! The powerful machinery, the soft fabrics, the colorful foams, the supportive coils — it was a buffet for the senses. But, as always, the very best part was seeing the people from our industry.
A few short weeks later, High Point Market kicked off with a similar feel. Freer travel yielded increased showroom visits and higher sales.
Before you know it, the time for Summer Las Vegas Market will be here. I look forward to visiting industry members, some of whom I haven’t seen since January 2020. I might even give them a hug.