The world seems to change every ten years, or so, doesn’t it? There is either a big incident that we forever attach a date to, or it’s just the accumulation of small things that eventually add up to a different world.
I think back to 2010 and how old-fashioned it feels to me. I had a flip phone and was pressing a number three times, just so one letter of a word would appear. That happened. That was real.
Sometimes, I’ll stumble across articles on the internet from 2012 and think, “Wow, that was so long ago!”
And then I have an existential crisis.
Things are a lot different now.
Photography has completely evolved. Music has changed. Ownership and operation of technological devices is presumed. Social media has become a place where most individuals are either yelling, covering their ears, or doing both at the same time.
We drink more water. We track our steps. We watch our shows. We get mad about a lot of things.
It is the accumulation of it all that makes the past look so foreign.
And now to address the elephant in the room. No, it’s not Babar. Though, this is an open invita–…
For the rest of our lives, whenever we hear, “March 2020”, I assume we’ll all have the same general reaction. For me, it’s an acquiescent head tilt to the left and a 3/4 breath outward, as my eyes slowly close and reopen.
That is the reaction that will bind us together. It will sum up so much.
March 2020 felt like the week between Christmas and New Year’s, except worse. Much, much, worse.
With nowhere to go, we fell into different stages of the pandemic, in an attempt to keep busy. We were all mere mortals in terms of productivity, compared to Taylor Swift, but here are some things:
There was Tiger King – I’m sure at least one person will comment on this to say they still haven’t seen it. Hi, Becky.
There was a toilet paper apocalypse and empty shelves, except for that one brand of water.
There were oodles and oodles of puzzles.
There were, “How To Wash Your Hands” posters and videos. How embarrassing, that it came to that.
There was banana bread everywhere. It felt like there was an unofficial competition going on over whose loaf was bigger and/or had more chocolate chips. I was keeping track, at least.
There were videos of celebrities singing, that no one really wanted.
There were birthdays that didn’t count and still don’t.
There was a lot.
All the while, there was loss, sadness, grief, gratitude, anger, and defiance.
There was a world we had never lived in before and phrases we had never used.
Again…there was a lot.
Excuse me while I count my fingers for a second – okay, we’re 20 months into this pandemic. Eventually, this will end and there will be an After. When that will be, I have no idea. But there will be an After.
And when we reach that After and get back to living in a world where a pandemic doesn’t loom over all of us, we’re not exactly going back to how things were Before.
Take your pick of things that you won’t be getting back. I’ll start with something simple.
Personally, a couple of my favourite restaurants – the ones where I’ve made so many memories ever since I was a child – are gone. I’ll never walk into those establishments ever again. I’ll never see the staff members who were always excited to see me. I’ll never eat the delicious food.
It’s over. It’s gone. It’s all just a memory now.
And anyone reading this can probably relate to that, on some level. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant that you’ll never go back to.
Maybe it’s a business. A store. A person. School.
When this ends, it doesn’t mean we go back to Fall 2019 and say, “Okay, let’s try this again.” No. Life isn’t as simple as a video game where you can quit and reload old saved progress. Imagine, though.
“Our lives are forever changed, we will never be the same, the more you change the less you feel.”
– Smashing Pumpkins: Tonight, Tonight
Are we going to be more sanitary, going forward? I think public places will do a better job at keeping things clean, but I have my doubts when it comes to human-to-human interaction. I already see people shaking hands with multiple people at a time. It feels too soon. Spare me the whole, “the virus is airborne” thing. This isn’t even about that. It is about a habit called hand-washing and trust.
They go hand-in-hand.
We don’t want your pee pee hands contaminating shared surfaces, or us. There, I said it.
On top of that, apparently we’re back to standing right behind someone in line? It happened to me twice, within the span of three minutes, last weekend.
If we take nothing else with us from this entire experience, please let it be that there is never a good reason to be breathing down the neck of someone while standing in line. You don’t have to call it social distancing, or anything at all. Just back up, or I may be inclined to start swinging my arms and kicking my legs like Bart and Lisa Simpson did that one time.
“If you get hit, it’s your own fault.”
Sporting events are back to full capacity and patrons must show proof of vaccination upon entry (in Canada, at least). You know I love sports. Have I felt the urge to go sit in an arena or stadium yet? Nope. Not one bit. I don’t care if it’s safe. I just don’t feel like being in that setting yet.
That’s me. Maybe it’s a reflection of who I am or what the last 20 months have been for me, but I feel perfectly fine watching from the couch, for now.
When we reach the After, I imagine there will be a great sense of relief, as well as a rejuvenation of life. Or not, who knows? We’ll be coming out of a pandemic in the 2020s; I don’t know how helpful history will be in telling us what to expect.
This is where I momentarily direct your minds back to my introduction about an ever-changing world, as well as mention the word “unprecedented” to help tie in with the “phrases we never used before” thing. Now that I’ve sewn this blog post together, I can end it.
Things will probably (maybe?) feel brand new, different, familiar, peculiar, questionable, frustrating, daunting, joyous, and predictable. I feel like I just
made a bunch of guesses narrowed down the possibilities to everything.
There is probably a study to be done on post-pandemic human behaviour at an institution of higher learning near you.
I intentionally didn’t put a question mark in the title of this post because I didn’t feel like I was asking a question. And I stand by that decision.
But now, I’ll add the question mark and direct this interrogative sentence toward all of you.
What comes after?