I haven't done one of these in a while...
Quite frankly, these "Corona Times" sort of morphed itself into a new normal - allowing us to not feel strange at all work from home; in grabbing our mask and phone as urgent necessities leaving the house; for standing six feet away from another individual in any setting; to seeing empty seats at sporting events as a good thing; to absorbing and dissecting "the real science" for all updates; for sitting on a zoom call for hours...and on, and on. You get the drift. What is this time?!!
This somehow became life.
As I write this, New York State (where I work) and New Jersey (where I now live - imagine the confusion when one state was ahead of the other in rollbacks!!) are now fully open with no COVID restrictions. I sat in my car for almost three hours yesterday in NYC traffic (yes, NYC is back and she is letting you know and feel it) and I found myself less frustrated with the mass amount of traffic, but more so genuinely happy about my surroundings.
NYC, a place many considered "dead" and "not worth it" was thriving, alive, with every bit of the last two days feeling like what it was before this pandemic hit. Yes, absurd traffic included.
For anyone who lived through and experienced the pandemic in this city, for any duration of it - especially that period of March 2020 - July 2020, knows exactly how horrific the aura that billowed over this area felt. It's okay to admit, all of us who did, carry large amounts oftrauma. It certainly changed many of us in many ways - through death, hardships, political awakenings, growth, self-assurance, and via deeper philosophical and theological appreciation for this thing called life.
Here are just a few random thoughts yours truly had in the midst of this three-hour traffic exploration of this stage of the pandemic:
- Even as the United States begins to open and evolve into our "new normal", I still think about the amount of effort, research, work, urgency, and sacrifice that went into discovering a vaccine for COVID. I received my two shots (Pfizer) back in May, and each time the process felt so simple - a mere routine visit to a local Walgreens. Yet, each time I was marveled about the end process, and how this simple thing was so sought after during those hardships throughout this time. Amazing. Really, a downright miracle.
- The sight of mass graves and "virtual" goodbyes will always stay with me. My heart rips apart for those who were unable to give loved ones a proper send home. My father passed away right as the pandemic lockdown began - and in many ways, I'm grateful that we at least were able to give him a minimal service. I can't imagine the number of people who had to endure without closure.
- Speaking of, let us not forget the 600,000+ people who have died during this time. We've become insanely desensitized to death with daily counters and statistics on our daily screens and as part of our updates for this time. It's so easy to forget the reverberations of each and every one of those deaths. People are hurting.
- I also think about those who are skeptical about the vaccine, and how I often attempt to empathize in order to see their view, and often times the irony in my attempts. I understand for some areas, COVID hasn't really felt like anything more than a lockdown imposed by the government - and nothing more. Those regions are so incredibly lucky - they have no idea how lucky they are.
- Seeing everyone maskless has been the biggest indicator of a "return". Despite the last few weeks which has caused so much social anxiety for me - Do I wear a mask here? Should I wear a mask there? - the entire "mask" discussion has been completely baffling to me. Truthfully, it's just a mask - we should be grateful that is the only sacrifice we had to make to beat this thing - and in many ways, we showed we were unable to do that as a nation.
- I genuinely hope that small businesses are supported through this recovering/evolving process. Please go spend some money at a local restaurant or business that has kept things going through this entire time.
- I'll never forget my thought of going to a Mcdonald's in March 2020 when nothing else was open and that crew was there working, grinding. There are so many essential workers who illuminated the inequity in our economic framework here in America. Let's not allow that to get lost. They deserve more.
- For myself, an administrator in higher education, it continues to be demoralizing to me the number of lives changed forever because of this pandemic. Mainly because of virtual learning, and a lack of structure around it. Especially so for black and brown young adults who had their opportunity for social mobility slammed shut during this time. And of course, the wasted potential that will lay at the doorstep of the consciousness of many who work in this field.
- Shout out to K-12 educators and administrators - your work and resolve went and continues to go unrecognized and undervalued during this time.
- For all of the people who were furloughed, laid off, let go, or moved on in their employment, I commend your will and resolve. This time not only was critical, but it definitely awakened so many to what earning a living truly meant. And the balance of self-care that comes with employment.
- Shout out to parents during this pandemic. Job well done. I'm a fan of all of you.
- And a separate shout-out particularly for single parents - you're a superhero within mortal measures.
- First responders - nothing but love - all the time.
- My mind still worries about the thousands of people who lived below the poverty line during this time, and COVID removed what little they had. From the mass evictions to the homeless, the pandemic revealed how much we could help...if this nation really wanted to.
- Much love to my Asian brothers and sisters who endured hate crimes and discrimination. I hope you get peace in some form going forward.
- No, I still haven't eased up on my stance from my Corona III post on President Trump's handling of the pandemic period. The 450+ days have brought so many types of "normal" or odd things and moments. Do you remember when millions of us sat at home awaiting the next step from our leaders, and pressers included political positioning, pointless speeches from corporate leaders, and the occasional head-scratching suggestion about injecting disinfectant?
And oh yeah, there is also the fact that President Trump knew - he KNEW! - about this long before it became a national issue. Me? I'll never forget that fact.
- I also realized how few of our political leaders are actual leaders. It's easy to say the right things and have the right image for election, but can you deliver when times get rough? Few have that ability, or even the moxie to do so.
- The pandemic is also not over. Many countries around the world are still in lockdown or are dealing with spikes in cases and deaths.
- Also, my son is three years old - half of his life has been this pandemic. Almost to the point where he asks for his mask when we leave in the car. In his world, this is normal.
- While sitting in my car watching a vibrant New York City once again, I wonder what the feeling will be when the "global pandemic" is officially declared over. When this entire thing is no longer a threat.
All in all, please take a moment to count your blessings from whatever perspective you come from in this historic time.