Such are the times we live in (and maybe they all are, and sometimes it's just easier to tell) where the way we interpret those times ends up inherently polarized. We're in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a little earlier in the year it seemed as if we had finally begun to emerge from it, at least in some sense, drifting back into previous versions of "normal." The pandemic itself isn't over, and whatever progress we make back to "normal" can always suffer setbacks.
Which is to say, at work the pandemic has certainly been reasserting itself.
My job has been one of the rare experiences in this thing where "normal" was all but mandated to reassert itself as early as two years ago, which is also to say, the first year of the pandemic, 2020. To quickly recap, I experienced the initial quarantine phase in the month of April that year, but as of May I was headed back to work, and while it was a slow restart, it was otherwise work as usual. There's no such thing as teleworking my job, I assure you. So for the past two years I have very much been existing in a weird world of knowing things are different but also a certain amount of extreme continuity with as they were before the pandemic.
When the virus strikes we shut directly affected rooms down. For two years I was never actively in a room that faced this. That streak ended on Wednesday. I tested that same day, as I was admittedly sick, but the results came back negative; the same ol' sinus infection I always battle.
So I continued working.
A couple of weeks ago I was traveling for the first time during the pandemic. I headed to Alabama to attend my nephew's high school graduation. I will spare the details for those who feel particularly polarized, but suffice to say there were kids who were obviously sick I encountered along the way, and that's only what was obvious. If I held my head because a situation was frustrating, people immediately suspected it was for some other reason (you can guess).
Among the books I packed for the trip, which I didn't end up reading during it but soon after, was the first one I've read to be written during and thus reflective of pandemic life. As I've been saying, I fully expect this to be a regular feature of cultural life for many years to come. It will be inescapable, and I actually look forward to it; out of the news, into the literature. We've grown a little too comfortable looking at symptoms rather than the disease, as it were, so it'll be nice to see life reflected a little more directly, so in that way I'm actually thankful for getting to experience all of this.