The last month has felt like we’re filing toward the exit of the alternate reality COVID-19 has trapped us in since March 2020, but nothing confirms everything is back to normal like bombs in the Holy Land.
I already miss the pandemic. It’s a flippant and risky sentiment to have, since the disease has already killed almost 3.4 million people across the globe, and history and Hollywood make me worry we could mistake the eye of an outbreak for the end of our storm. Nevertheless, our days and world are beginning to resemble what we considered life before COVID, before lockdowns, before we lived through history.
You have survived a global plague, traversed a secluded realm along the human experience. That feels worthy of pause: for gratitude and relief, and for reflection about who you were and who you will be now that you are not dead.
I’m not eager to return to reality as it was mapped out prior to COVID. Aside from all the death and stuff, I kind of liked the detour. I’m not ready to stop wearing masks, more as enchanting fashion than for protection. All of my face coverings have designs that express my interests or match my outfit, and I’m reluctant to surrender an accessory that directs attention toward my most favorable and resourceful facial feature. To know whether I’m flirting or frustrated, strangers really don’t need to see anything except my eyes. My allegiance to masks is not indicative of my caution level throughout the pandemic, which I feel less damned for confessing now that I’m fully vaccinated without me or anyone in my orbit of contact having contracted, transmitted or died from the disease.
I quarantined for about 85 hours before I began navigating our brave new world, initially solo but not long after with groups that exceeded the sizes recommended by public health officials. The weddings, funerals, sex clubs, birthday parties and other affairs I’ve attended would’ve earned superspreader designation had anyone gotten sick. I understand how many (maybe most) people would consider my behavior arrogant, reckless and selfish, and I quake knowing I would be dead had this been the onset of an epidemic more similar to smallpox or AIDS. However, this was not that plague; and I did not feel its direst risks, nor was I irresponsible with those whose company I shared (I almost always had on a super-cute mask).
I’ve dodged the disbelief and rage of fellow liberals by not flaunting my conduct as a cause for freedom or pointing out every time the science they’ve used as the basis of their sanctimony is clarified, corrected or discarded like a used, useless Lysol wipe. Half of me feels guilt and the rest pity when I hear folks’ excitement about doing things they’ve sacrificed throughout the pandemic, since about the only thing I haven’t done in the last year is work.
I rebelled against employment for the maximum number of weeks permitted by state law and have maintained my protest since conservatives learned the wrong lesson from people living better outside the workforce. The last thing I’m in the mood for is returning to someone’s office, and I wouldn’t have known how to evade that conscription but for the past 14 months.
Each of us had survival strategies and now have a survival story. Mine include unprecedented dominion over my time, and the hope of that reality transitioning from alternative to permanent.