It has been a year since the world changed for us all. For some, it’s been fifteen months. We remember the before. We remember dinner parties, and dates, and socializing in groups. We remember the gym, the coffee shop, the office. These are still things affixed in our memories, often romanticized, often lionized, as signs of the normal.
A year on, and after my first dose of the vaccine, I have started to collect a scrapbook of the pandemic times. An N-95 mask. A cloth mask to go over it. My vaccination card. A box of latex gloves in my car. A tube of Clorox wipes. I remember those early days, when we didn’t know what this was yet, when it was just two weeks to flatten the curve. I remember a springtime of cramming two offices and a school into a house that wasn’t constructed for that. I remember a summer with no pools, with little group activity, of lonely chats with friends on text chains and over group zooms.
When it comes to an event like this, as we come to the beginning of the end of this phase, it’s important to take stock of what you are taking away from it all.
For me, I will take away this: you will never again take for granted travel, or school, or work, or people. I think of the crushing isolation of the last 12 months, and I will never again skip out on an invite to see a friend’s band at a dive bar, or to take them dinner, or to go to another city to experience their world.
I will take away that the people in your life matter so much more than you ever thought, when you miss them. I will mourn with my friends who have lost loved ones, and take joy in their memories with them. I will sit in the stands on a hot hot day, and order an extra drink, and sit and watch a languid game of baseball. I will see a place that felt far away before, just to go be with someone I’ve missed.
This pandemic was not a gift. It was not a joy. It was a hardship, and a torment, and it took so much from us all. It took friends and family. It took love and created loss. There is nothing about this pandemic I will miss.
But that does not mean that good cannot come from what we do next.
I, for one, cannot wait to share your company again, to eat and drink with you, to see your world through my eyes, and to experience that shared present together. That is what I take away.