Normality

We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem. – Douglas Adams

I was thinking today that one of the things I have heard most often during the pandemic – other than complaints about weight gain and foggy brains – is this specific phrase, “Well, when things return to normal…”

Here’s the issue, though. I’m not sure things are going to return to normal. At least not for us. The next couple of generations? Maybe. But for us, I think there will be a new normal. One very different from the one we have been slogging through for the past year, but one not quite the same as the one we had before.

Am I ready to see people again? Well, sort of. I have been one of the fortunate ones over the last year in that I was at work on pretty much a daily basis with many, if not all, of my colleagues as well as a smattering of patrons picking up materials at our doorside hours. I have been to a couple of restaurants, not just for take-out but for actual in-store dining, which has been nice, although I was nervous the first time. And while restaurants feel okay, I am admittedly leery of heading back to movie theaters – I think because of the length of time you sit in one, although I haven’t quite nailed down the exact reason why. That said, I have been looking longingly at the Broadway selections coming to Hartford in the next year as well as the concert tour of one of my favorite singing groups. I guess because I can stream most movies from the comfort of my sofa on the giant television my fiance attached to the wall in the living room, but not the touring company of Dear Evan Hansen.

That said, I am still… uneasy would probably be the best word about being in groups of people larger than 15-20, not that I have ever been comfortable in crowds – hello fellow introverts! – and this past year has given me more reason to be wary, even though all of my family has now been vaccinated.

I am thinking this may be because of history.

The pandemic of 1918 lasted longer than one year and had three waves, with some historians positing there was a fourth that took place in the winter of 1920. It was less deadly than the three that preceded it, but was a fourth wave nonetheless.

Despite improvements in science in the last one hundred years, this fact does not fill me with confidence for the future. Mainly because of some of the people I have met over the years.

Every time COVID restrictions have been relaxed, numbers have gone up. Because – for whatever reason they claim – people can’t follow guidelines. Granted, this was prior to the vaccine being widely available, but new variants are popping up all the time. There was a story on the radio just last week of a Malaysian variant that seems to be transmitted by dogs. There is a specific deletion in the genome that allows the virus to infect humans.

I am expending a great deal of effort not to think about this too much. I like petting cute doggies…

There are a few things I will be carrying with me in my new normal. Masks, for one. Now that I have found a great clippy thing that sits on my nose and keeps my glasses from fogging up, I will definitely be wearing a mask all winter. For the first time in years, I didn’t get a cold, cough, or sinus infection at all during SLUG season. And my face was warm when I walked the dog in the cold, dark evenings. It was actually almost nice being outside in those conditions, which surprised me as I am not a fan of cold and very much a fan of snuggling under a blanket. I also find color-coordinating my mask to my outfit of the day is kind of fun.

We take pleasure where we can; don’t judge.

There are definitely some good things about this return to ‘normal’. We are opening up the library more, and people are glad to see us! Gatherings with the family will be less fraught with more hugs. I can hang out more with my neighbors during my evening doggie excursions – he knows the words ‘walk’ and ‘outside’, but hasn’t yet equated ‘excursion’ with going for a walk outside, which makes it easier to talk about – rather than shouting at them from across the street.

All good things. Possibly coming at me a little faster than I was prepared for, but I am sure it will all be good. Mostly.

Maybe it’s not the old normal, but I can live with it. Change is what keeps us alive, right?

Right.

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