Happy fall, everyone!! It’s finally my favorite time of year, but it will unfortunately be another season spent in the house as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. It’s kind of a weird thing to wrap your head around that it has been nearly seven months of this and even weirder when you realize that we went into quarantine before it officially turned spring. Every day seems like it’s the same, yet when you zoom out and look across the past six months, so many tragedies have happened. It seems every time we joke that this year can’t get any worse, it does. The days blur into each other as we brace for impact for the next devastating headline. Has it always been this way, or are we really in the twilight zone?
We started out with these feelings of acceptance for getting the opportunity to slow down, pick up new hobbies, learn more about what was going on in the world socially and politically, and so on. Many chalked up their lack of social awareness to daily distractions and responsibilities and we seemingly attempted to come together to find the good during the bad. But that was the beginning. We became fatigued with our ‘new normal’ and the lack of our previous daily distractions made the lows feel extremely low and the highs something to grasp for. Although the type of events/news/information we consume daily have actually just been history repeating itself, we are definitely in the twilight zone–a time undefined. Between moments of gratitude for good health and moments of clarity that life is precious and short, there are layers of anxiety about when this will be over; guilt for wishing it could be over; and a restlessness about how to make the most out of our short, precious lives when we can’t (read: shouldn’t) leave our houses unless necessary. I can’t help but feel spoiled and lost at the same time.
As an American, I am spoiled for choice. Yes, I am black. Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am a black woman. Still, I am spoiled with a certain level of privilege because I am an American. If I really just said f— it and did what I claim to so desperately miss about life pre-quarantine, I could. My country unfortunately values profit over public health, and what we consider “normal” activities to take us out of the mundanity of quarantine have become available again: there are plenty of places I could fly to, restaurants are open, stores are open, museums are open, AMUSEMENT PARKS are open. The idea of simply wanting something and being able to have it during a global pandemic is such a privilege. All I have to do is slap on a mask and I could be living my life the way I used to. But…I’m not.
I tried to go window shopping, but the thought of touching things made me paranoid. I wondered, “If I touch something, will employees see me and be mad that I felt I needed to touch it to know whether I wanted to buy it?” I went to eat at a restaurant once when my boyfriend’s friends were in town and, despite being the only people on the large patio, I felt like I was sitting on pins and needles the whole time. I will even admit that I have avoided contacting some friends because I see their lack of regard for general safety on social media and it has been difficult for me to not pass judgment. This is where feeling lost comes in because if I have access to everything I thought I wanted/missed and don’t take advantage of it, what am I really yearning for sitting in my house every day?
Of course I recognize that all of these things would seem more attractive if there wasn’t a looming threat of a fatal virus with no cure present. As I write this post, however, I also recognize that I have spent these last six months romanticizing things that, alone, don’t actually add to my life. All of these activities I thought I missed are attached to memories and pasttimes. I guess to answer my own question, what I yearn for is connectedness. I miss the hugs, the hand-holding, the nights on crowded dance floors; I miss house parties and the excessive picture-taking; I miss the lack of sleep from staying up night after night with strangers-turned-friends in a foreign country that makes it all feel like a lucid dream; I miss concerts full of people screaming at the top of their lungs and being packed in like sardines in the standing-room section. And if there’s one thing I miss more often as time passes, it’s that sweet spot of the years when social media was a form of sharing rather than a personality trait. I have a horrible habit of living in this nostalgia. I get so wrapped up in trying to recreate the feeling of “the first time” and reminiscing on times that I wish I knew were good when I was in them. However, this prevents me from being able to appreciate the years I have lived through and distracts me from the opportunities ahead.
I love how many of us have grown and how much we have learned during this time of relative stillness. I love the feeling of comfort I get that everyone close to me in my life shares the same perspective on social issues and wants to see change. I love that everyone, including myself, has grown a new appreciation for life and look forward to the days when the vaccine is available so they can take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. There are still so many memories to be made. Though this year has completely reshaped those of us who are living through it, in the grand scheme, this is just one of life’s many changes.