commentary and current events

“Happy” Quarantineversary

The date varies a little depending on where you were last year. But you already know which date I mean. The date everything changed.

Image: Blog post title image with photo of two people wearing masks outdoors in the city.

For me, the week of March 8, 2020 was a week of preparation and apprehension. My state’s lockdown orders went into effect Friday, March 13. My last day in the gym was Tuesday, March 9; I skipped wind band rehearsal that week, so my last time with the ensemble was Tuesday, March 3.

I’d spent the previous Saturday, March 7, putting a Class A winterguard on the floor in our pursuit of what, at the time, we all expected to be a solid state championships run. Maybe not a medal-winning run, but one we could all be proud of for a Class A guard in its debut year on the floor.

Winterguard competitions tend to be packed. We sit shoulder to shoulder in the bleachers; we perform in poorly-ventilated gyms; set up and tear down are a mad scramble of a dozen or more people in close quarters, gathering equipment and folding or unfolding a 40-foot by 70-foot tarp in the two to three minutes (total for both) we get to do those tasks before we take a penalty for delay of show.

Even at that last competition, I felt apprehensive, but nothing seemed real yet. I knew what was happening in Italy; I’d seen the Bay Area shut down just days before; I knew we were next. But I didn’t really understand on a more than superficial level what that meant. No one did. We’d never lived through it before.

I planned this post months ago, while making my blogging schedule for the year. At the time I thought it would be easier to write. After all, we were ten months into this pandemic. We all knew the ropes, right?

Now that The Week Everything Changed is back, I realize–again–how I have underestimated this pandemic. I’ve underestimated the house of mirrors time-travel aspect of trauma–again.

This is not an easy post to write. This is not an easy day, or week, for me to be living through. In the process of changing everything to Pandemic Mode, I have spent the last year more or less in a constant present. The past, so different from the pandemic, served no useful reference. The future became un-plannable and therefore unknowable.

Today, though, I see the past like it’s here again. I relive moments of The Week Everything Changed, when Before Pandemic was still normal and During Pandemic was strange, quiet, terrifying.

I’d say “otherwise, this is just a normal Monday,” but I don’t even know what that means. Not anymore.

The pandemic has not been entirely terrible for me. I’m still alive, for one thing; 525,000 Americans, 2.59 million people worldwide, cannot say the same. I’ve had time to breathe, to figure out my priorities, to set goals and to question whether everything I ran around doing pre-pandemic needed to be done by me and what it cost me to do it.

I don’t even want to talk about how bad this pandemic has been for the U.S. We know. We watched it all fall apart under the opposite of leadership. And as promising as the latest stimulus bill is in many ways, it’s not going to repair the damage that has already been done. It can’t. So many things are irreparable.

I’m not sorry we forced the world to slow down. I am sorry it cost so much.

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