Last year, at this exact time (3:45 pm), my boss was telling my team to take anything personal home with us. Closure had not yet been announced at work, but illnesses were escalating dramatically and the situation in Westchester County, NY, was already devastating, to the point where they’d announced a mile-wide “containment zone” around New Rochelle.
Little did we know.
I’d been working from home for the week due to other issues, but I went in for a meeting and, scary as it was, I’m glad I did. Not only did I get to save my office plant but I have the memory of my colleagues, plus a hug from one of them.
It’s weird to realize I haven’t hugged anyone but Jon and pets for a literal year. I’ve only been past the courtyard fifteen times in the past year, mostly to walk Kizu or to help Jon take the animals to their vets.
It’s also weird to realize I haven’t seen my parents and most of my dearest friends since 2019. Sure, I’ve seen some of them on Zoom and I’ve called some and used social media tools to talk to others, but it’s not the same.
That said, all in all I consider myself extremely lucky. I’m used to working from home and I have a separate room set up for comfortable work. Jon and I get along really really well (we’ve only had one fight and I consider that a big victory). The animals are all doing reasonably well given the restrictions. My feet have gotten a LOT better due to lack of enclosed shoes. And while my hips and back are still a mess and a half, I don’t have to go anywhere so it’s not as much of a problem as it could be.
But so many people are lost. So many people are struggling. So many people don’t have a job they can perform remotely. So many people have a job they can’t stop doing because they’re essential*.
It’s this kind of thing that makes me realize there will never truly be a “back to normal.” Too many of us have changed.
And really? That’s the way it should be. None of this was necessary and none of it was ok. I’m going to remember that, and hopefully, so will the people who can make a difference.
*But we don’t pay them like they’re essential, DO we…