no going back

When you spend your summer writing a book about getting older,andduring that time your daughter graduates high school,andyou celebrate a big birthday,andyou celebrate your twentieth wedding anniversary (twice),and你的女儿去上大学了——我想说的是,你有点自省了。

So today, when something dawned on me with crushing realization, it also occurred to me that I’m a bit slow on the uptake, because I should’ve figured this out quite a while ago but I didn’t, and it is this:

We’re never going back to what it was like before the pandemic.

I know. I KNOW. It’s been almost 29 months since we first began hearing about COVID, and you would’ve thought that by now I would’ve figured this out. But I think part of me keeps thinking that I’ll eventually feel safe traveling without a mask on, or go grocery shopping without a mask on, or really goanywhereindoors in public without a mask on. And I know that most people already feel comfortable doing this, but I don’t — and am not entirely sure that I’ll ever get there. I mean, I’m notcompletelyreclusive — I’m fine gathering with a couple of other people without worrying, or even sitting outside at a patio restaurant (when it’s not hellfire degrees outside). And as an introvert, my day-to-day life really isn’t that different from the way it was in 2019. But still — I thought the day would’ve come by now when I could stop doing a risk assessment with every activity I plan. And it dawns on me — justtoday— that day mightnevercome.

But again, I’ve been introspective, so it’s also dawned on me that now that I can let go of the idea that things won’t return to what they were, it means that there’s a bit of freedom in creating what the futurecould be. To be clear, I don’t know what that looks like, yet. But it’s an opportunity to be creative, right? It’s an opportunity to think about how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, while also living an ever-expansive life.

Which, when you think about it, is what we were supposed to have been doing all along.