At this point, I barely know what day it is let alone how many days we’ve been in lockdown. Like all coronavirus stats, how you count the days varies on a number of factors: are you starting when there was mandated stay-at-home order? Or just suggested? Are you counting when you personally started? Or when the nation did (oh wait, there’s not actually a national stay-at-home order, my bad)?
However you’re counting the days, it’s been a long time. And we seem to have hit the point of “quarantine fatigue” where it’s gone on long enough that we’re going a little nutty and the end isn’t in sight so we’re getting a little antsy to get back to “normal”. But in desiring that sense of normalcy, we also have to consider what is “normal” (said like the Dowager Countess, speculating on the definition of a “weekend”)? Some are saying we will never see the 2019 world again and we must adjust to a new normal.
In my new normal vision of the world, we are allowed outside! And we still have concerts and bars and restaurants, movie theaters and travel and hugs. But it’s all a little slower, a little less rushed, a little more understanding. You don’t have someone breathing down your neck at the grocery check-out to hurry up but they keep a polite distance (in my new normal, “social distancing” isn’t a catchphrase but politeness is encouraged). In my new normal, public transportation and theaters are still a thing but everyone has learned to cover their mouths (and not hold onto the subway pole after sneezing into their hand!!) and dare I even adventure to envision handkerchiefs becoming en vogue again?? Ah zut! How classy and vintage.
For myself, I hope I continue to do crossword puzzles from an actual newspaper, perhaps I’ll even subscribe to a Sunday paper (we’re going all out in this imagined reality)! I have friends over and everyone keeps track of their drinking glass. And friends from far away still join in for virtual happy hours and movie sessions. When I’m feeling under the weather, I won’t feel guilty about saying I need to work from home and when I have a fever, I won’t even open my work computer (as a currently funemployed person, I also imagine I have gainful employment again).
But I also think I’ll exercise at home more instead of building my immune system by sweating at the gym where I have never seen dumb bells or racks wiped down and towels are only available for a fee. I’ll splurge on spin class and bring my own mat to yoga because they already frequently clean the bikes after class but mats are cleaned with a polite, zen ask rather than a guarantee you’re not downward dogging into someone’s ball sweat.
So there is a new normal out there and it’s not so terrifying as the current reality. But above all, I hope the new normal is better than the old one. I hope we can still see sea creatures in the Venice canals and smog-free skylines in LA. This is a wake up call not just for our political systems and healthcare but for our environmental awareness. So even though things may not be like they were in 2019, maybe they’ll be even better.