A COVID Afterworld

On Monday, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will go in my arm. I’ll have roughly 80% protection within two weeks. I’ll have the second shot three weeks later. And just like that I’ll be protected from the virus that has swept the country. Three brief scares, one of which bound me to the house for a week, and that’s all I suffered from the grand pandemic.

I didn’t suffer epic loss directly. A close friend had a mild case and that’s it. No family members lost to it. No major grief. My dad, my biggest fear, is vaccinated fully. I can’t claim any major loss of plans. I took two vacations after all. I’ve been to Hot Springs a few times. I haven’t been scarred by COVID.

But I’m like a lot of the country. I’m scarred by it in another way. I’m scarred by the anxiety this year has given me. I have joined the rest of the country in breaking at the slightest sickness. Any scratchy throat was the apocalypse. I had a bad cold and it was a nightmare I had to be talked down from. When I had a stomach bug during a trip, I was treated like I needed to be locked up. (Which worked. I was over it by dawn.) Being sick won’t be the same again.

And there are things I’ve lost. I love going to the movies. I only went 3 times in the last year and only one was a new movie. I’ve had very few new films. Bookstores, comic stores? I’ve seen both close. Shopping has changed. There’s a liquor store I love I haven’t been in in a year. A lot of places I haven’t been.

Oh and I have a different car and job. Those might or might not have happened without COVID. The former I think would have. I don’t know about the latter. Working from home was a mess but so was that job.

But now everything is healing. Godzilla vs Kong has tickets on sale. Marvel’s keeping its dates. Vaccines are flying out. Places are reopening. My wife is going back to work. The world is getting back to normal.

What a weird feeling this is. Even though in Arkansas lockdown was never THAT bad, it’s likely I’ll be back in restaurants more. I can go to bars. I can see friends and family without fear. Eventually I won’t wear a mask everywhere. Do I know how not to?

The thing is, it felt a year ago like the world might dramatically change. We had a violent, dangerous plague. It felt like the order of the world was about to be upended. And no it really wasn’t. We learned we could do a lot remotely but the systems stayed in place that will stay in place. Work from home won’t last sadly. The oligarchy stayed put. A normal will return.

But it leaves behind its dead. Far too many dead. We haven’t begun to reckon with what we lost. I don’t know if we will. I don’t know if you can face almost 200 9/11s. Because that’s what we’re looking at ultimately. Wow…

And I don’t have any answers. No conclusions. Just thoughts. I don’t know what’s coming. But I’ll learn