And they all lived happily ever after.
It seemed appropriate to begin at the ending. Maybe to trace my way back? I’m not entirely sure. I want to say its still a dark and stormy night, but, there be light at the end of the tunnel. I recently was reminded that we’ve been in this pandemic thing for a year now. Not that I’ve forgotten, mind you. But, we all fall into routines. A year go, in a matter of a weekend, my company moved our entire workforce from a mixture of office and home, to entirely from home. I remember my manager was surprised that my teammate and I were so well prepared. I’m not sure he realized that we’d both seen the writing on the wall, weeks ago. At the same time, I/we/all of us watched as stores closed, our bars shut down (that was a hard one…) and everything that once was our normal rat race, came to a halt. Not just my neighborhood, or my county, or my city, or my state. My country, and all of the countries of the world suddenly became hardcore introverts. We closed our doors and stayed inside. We stopped gathering. Because we were now a danger to one another. We’ve been doing this for a year now, and its been odd.
I take solace in the fact that I’m pretty good at being alone. My wife, she is too. We’re good at being alone together. So the future wasnt so glaringly insurmountable. Thankfully, our best friends are similarly isolated. We see one another, and thats about it. And there’s only a small handful of us. We quickly worked out rules, instituted an isolation period, and worked out how we could still hang out, outdoors, in a safe space, once a week. And my gods, it worked. My friends have kept me sane this past year.
We watched Trump try to tear America apart, as he became worse than those he railed against. We watched him lose an election. We watched his supporters commit an act of insurrection. I spoke to my mom, as she watched it on tv with tears in her eyes, wondering what had become of the American Pageant. And then, we watched A new President take office, as the bullhorn of the previous leader was unceremoniously taken away. I’ve lived in a world of stress for four years, afraid that a man with zero experience would make the kinds of mistakes that someone in his position tends to make. But thankfully, there were no wars, and very little exploded (yes, yes, there was that one Iranian Major General. But I shall refrain from discussing that further).
And then there was George Floyd. This too, I shall refrain from discussing in any real detail, as this is a highly charged topic. However, the fallout was swift, intense, and lasting. Said fallout has done lasting damage to my city. There are still barricades downtown. The city is still trashed in some places. Plywood still covers many businesses. Portland’s downtown is a former shell of itself. But there are many factors in play there. State and local government. The pandemic, the protests, and the collective fallout from all of the above. Healing my city will take time, And that wont begin, until The medical risk to us all, has been negated. And we’re getting there, slowly but surely.
Which brings up my next topic. I filled out the form, I scheduled the thing. I have two appointments. one for my first vaccine shot, one for my second. Its a strange sense of feeling like I won the lottery. Granted, I will still wear a mask everywhere, but maybe I’ll be a little less terrified when I go to the grocery store. Maybe, just maybe, I wont be a third of the way to a panic attack in public places. I’m looking forward to that, no lie.
As I’m sitting here at 11:45 at night, the cat snoring behind me, I’m sitting here pondering the thought of “where do we go from here?” As the world thinks about easing back into functionality, how will the events of the last year change us, change how we exist? What will normal look like now? It cant be the way it was, and the way it is, isn’t necessarily sustainable. It’ll be interesting to see.
At the very least, the last year has reaffirmed the value I place on my friends. Its taught me that I’m good at being alone, even if its not my favourite thing. Its taught me to look for the positive in anything, and that sometimes, when things seem absolutely nuts, its more than acceptable to curl up with the cat, and take a nap. Which is what I’m going to do now. We’ll see if I write more soon.