Wednesday, March 10, 2021

From there to here, and on into the unknown

Life in the Time of Corona. The beat goes on. Monday I read this from The Atlantic: Late-State Pandemic is Messing With Your Brain and it hit, as written pieces will do for all of us. This one because it brought up two things I've been thinking about, and maybe you have too. 

The first and most glaring is I've forgotten how to live the life I used to live before this. 

I went into my office a few weeks ago to go to my dentist and it felt like catching glimpses of a past self. The prospect of going back to even a passing semblance of what I used to do feels as it mentions in the article - unimaginable on a literal level, like my brain can't or won't put me in those places, doing those things. Walking down the still largely empty streets of a city I've worked in the middle of for over 12 years with it bustling and buzzing around me, assimilating me into itself every time I stepped out of a building or train station, is creepy and jarring. I  imagine a scenario in which I return to those streets, dodging people that once again fill them, will also feel creepy and jarring. 

Are we each living in our own version of Sliding Doors?

I'm starting to forget and in some instances have completely forgotten what life before this was like, so the prospect of returning to anything that was just as it was feels foreign too. Every night I went over the morning commute - what train did I want to catch? Okay, that means leaving at this time or this time or this - and every day I knew when I had to get my shit together and get out of there to catch my regular train home. If I had to walk to acupuncture at lunch, I had to leave at x time. Same for the dentist or any appointment anywhere in the city I was walking to. 

I have always been a master of time, always been early. Now? I blank even thinking of how long it would take me to get to the train station and move my ass onto a train. I had to run from my office to my acupuncture appointment a few weeks ago because I misjudged the time. When I have to leave the house for one of my few and far between appointments now, it is hard for me to gauge what time I need to leave by - I either cut it way too close or I'm an hour early. 

Yesterday crept into the 60s and I sat in my yard in the sun at lunch which was my constant respite as the weather warmed last April - arguably one of the worst if not the worst months of mental struggle for me in my lifetime - and I felt an uncomfortable sense of looking around for April 2020 me and hoping she wasn't going to dare show her face around here again. I'm normally not so inhospitable toward my previous selves. 

Early on in this, I worried if it would impact my brain and thinking patterns long-term. A year in, that's so's not a matter of if it will, but how it will. While I don't struggle as much mentally anymore, I do still feel at times what The Atlantic piece mentions as a physical heaviness about the shoulders and which I refer to as a pandemic sweater, and carrying that doesn't come without a price. And as in the case of the author of The Atlantic piece, I have experienced the pandemic from a place of obscene privilege as well - I can WFH, my immune system is good, we weathered the financial impact of loss of wages and income better than a lot of people could, our losses have been few, our close framily are people who believe in science - yet it's still been hard to carry, so how the fuck are the people who did not experience this from that place going to be okay moving forward. 

How do we go ahead at all when some people still don't believe something close to 530,000 Americans have died from in under a year is a thing? How can there be a collective grief for people and ways of life lost when there are so many people out there who are basically like fuck your loss and fuck your grief and I didn't change anything and you’re a sheep for doing so? Forward seems like walking through honey next to these people.

But forward is happening. Vaccine rollout is happening. 

Exactly what forward looks like personally, professionally, societally...we're all heading a little bit into the unknown. I'm interested as hell to see where we go from here, with us dying to do some things again and not interested at all in going back to others. 

And that's the second thing I've been thinking about. How to prepare to transition into what's next when we don't know what next looks like. The abrupt change in life on March 16, 2020, was part of what was hard - no easing in. No transition. And it looks like asking for an ease into the next is still too much. But we've shown we are extremely adaptable and resilient, and we'll be that way with whatever comes next too. That's the plan, I guess. 

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