Nothingness

This time has been tough.

It started off scary in those first few days, as the NBA and NHL shut down their seasons, Walt Disney World and other theme parks shut their gates, and businesses closed shop. There was a palpable sense of paranoia going around like a (don’t say virus….don’t say virus….don’t say virus…) storm, whipping people into a frenzy of cleaning, distancing and panicking.

Then, sometime in those first few weeks, it turned into something novel. People found so much time on their hands, to better think about things, accomplish things, etc. Social media was flooded with photos and videos and stories of people painting rooms, building furniture, planting gardens, doing all manner of stuff. Cooking! I’ve never seen so many people begin baking their own bread as in those first few weeks. I imagine the overall percentage of people baking bread increased at the greatest rate in human history since the first person to bake bread taught the second.

Then, after a month or so, it settled into a version of normalcy. You worked, you maybe got some exercise, you maybe did a Zoom call with friends, you binge watched Netflix, you ordered delivery of just about everything. As the weeks dragged into months, you started to wonder when things would go back to what they were before. You started dreaming of where you’d go, what you’d eat, have visions of what your life used to be like and how you’d jump at the chance to do it again.

Then, reopening began. Slowly at first, restaurants at 25% capacity, stores at 25% capacity, people being allowed to return to their offices. Then more; 50% capacity, gyms reopening, hair and nail salons and barbershops. More people returning to the office. But does it actually feel normal?

To me, it feels like nothingness. I used to love going to the grocery store, getting inspiration for that night’s dinner by what I found (and cursing myself when I’d get home missing a key ingredient). One of my favorite things is to sit at the bar with friends and family, have a cocktail or a beer, solve all the problems in the world. But with things reopening, I feel a sense of nothing about those. Almost a fear. Would I get sick going to get my hair cut? Would that beer cost me my life, or the life of a loved one or a stranger? Would it ever feel normal again?

The truth is, these are unprecedented times. I wonder if people in 1918 were wondering the same thing; would they feel normal going to the haberdashery to pick up a hat, or get some filets at the butcher? Maybe meet the boys for a sasparilla? No one knows what’s right, what’ll happen next, where we should be in our thoughts. We’re all kind of swimming through this, together, but also apart.

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