If I may begin to reflect (which I do every week), I’ve just been sitting around with the fact that things are significantly going to change in the next month. Vaccine rollouts for all adults have started in most states, cities are bustling back like usual, and maybe I’ll be in a classroom in the fall. It just seems like things may genuinely be heading closer to “normal.”
But that instinct and feeling to return to what we would consider being “normal” are unsettling to me. And this sentiment that’s only been growing in my mind since we got sent home over a year ago has only risen higher. After over half a million people here have died, after millions went and may still be unemployed, the initial gut instinct of just returning back to some world where we all just didn’t experience a pandemic just will never sit right.
I think about when I didn’t wipe down my groceries or just went through life opening doors without pulling the sleeve of my hoodie down or sanitizing my hands immediately after. I think about what it meant for me to just bustle through downtown Chicago, packed within crowds and taking the L to see a concert. And in every single one of those brief moments, I still don’t think I can fathom how we must just immediately snap out of all our habits and embrace the world again.
I’d like to think I took things seriously the past 13 months. I kept my distance with folks, saw people outside, and just made the most out of whatever the last year threw at us. I have no regrets about both my behavior and fears over unnecessarily endangering other people. It’s like that brutally honest comment that goes something like “I don’t know how to explain that you should care about other people”; that was essential in how I kept telling myself why I needed to take things seriously. Whenever there was even an inch of doubt about whether I was taking things too seriously or being too overcautious, I just remembered that phrase again and again.
My perceptions and worries about behavior also began to drift away too. It wasn’t that I didn’t stop condemning folks for staying safe or being conscious about how their actions would negatively impact and could harm others; I frankly just realized (as with so many other things in my life) that many simply would never care. It’s okay for me to think about how difficult it can be to come to terms with that. I’m grateful that those close to me did share my same concerns and sought to make the most out of the difficult circumstances. But it doesn’t make it any less annoying or discouraging when people continue to not take things seriously enough.
I don’t know what life will be like when I’m fully vaccinated and feel “comfortable” back outside in the world. I don’t deny that there’s a considerable level of anxiousness or worry that I’ll eventually have to shed as we all will once the pandemic officially ends. But I do think there’s a substantial amount of me that is just hopeful I can navigate mundane, everyday things again without just unnecessarily worrying I missed disinfecting a surface. So I guess that for as frustrating or as bizarre as it may seem, I just am going to accept all the awkward moments as life transitions to this new phase post-pandemic, hopefully getting a free Krispy Kreme donut.
Being Noah Tesfaye #178: Signs of a Different Time
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