Britain started vaccinating yesterday.
The NYT Daily calls it the “beginning of the end”.
What does that mean for us? So many seem to think we’ll be going back to normal soon. I’m not sure I even remember what “normal” looked like. I cringe when I see photos from the beginning of the year. We used to hug each other? We crowded into restaurants full of strangers with other people cooking our food? What did we expect would happen?
How will we know if someone else took the vaccine? I don’t trust my fellow Americans anymore. A plague of hate and fear stalks and divides even life long friends. I don’t want to catch it. The virus can be survived, but the plague of emotional wretchedness has no vaccination or cure. And, even if there was, most would rather die than take it. I sit here comfortably from my quarantine gazing at the lights of my lovely Christmas tree. Where do I go from here?
Today begins with no alarm. I have no place to go. No workplace beckons me. I lay for awhile and ask myself how I’m feeling today. “Content” she says. What do you need? I ask as I do a body scan to determine today’s baseline. “I want my coffee,” I say back to myself. I stir beneath the blankets. My cats start meowing for food. My dog, who seems depressed and tired of this situation or her life, just lays there for awhile. I pet her head, and I get up. My right ankle feels creaky supporting my weight. I move it around tenderly and grab my robe. I’ll get dressed when I feel like it.
Ashok stands in the yard alert. She stalks and eventually scares a rabbit grazing in the yard. I step out to look at the moon and stars. We both climb the back stairs into the kitchen. With the excitement of a meal, my pets are energized. They run and cry. I fix their bowls, give them some clean water and give Ashok her meds and vitamins. Wanting distraction, I play the Daily podcast while I prepare my pour-over coffee. I accidentally boil my oat milk and listen with interest to the comments of the British about the vaccine. Some are excited. Some health care workers weep with relief. Others don’t trust it. Vow they won’t take it. Most feel duty-bound to end this thing.
My coffee mug warms my hands as I peruse the New York Times’ year in pictures. With each photo I remember where I was during that time. I remember the fear of February when I realized that Covid-19 would end up here. The abrupt closure of my workplace in March sent me home. The boredom of working on Zoom and my aching back fueled the relief I felt after opening the email offer to retire with a generous package. How quickly my life became formless and restful, a blank slate for me to design my new “normal”.
Yesterday’s big event was the making of a Christmas Stollen. It was a long meandering process that required two trips to the store for forgotten ingredients. I had a beautiful holiday dessert after dinner and now have a couple of gifts to deliver today. Everyday I get an hour of exercise. I meditate. I call at least a couple of people to stay connected. I walk my dog. I do some kind of work on a career search or to jumpstart my writing. I cook and eat my meals at home. I drink lots of lovely teas and enjoy hot chocolate and coffee. I take naps with abandon. I go hiking. It is all very soothing.
Today I will deliver the stollen to friends. I’ll spend some time in my online writing class. I’ll peruse LinkedIn or some other site for jobs or networking opportunities. I’ll take a networking call with a Memphis woman that I met on LinkedIn. My coach is hosting a virtual retreat this afternoon, and I have a conference call with several retired friends tonight. At some point I will run or take a hike with my dog. Nothing is required. Everything is encouraged.
The beginning of the end…. I believe it’s the beginning of a new beginning. Our hope for things to be “normal” is probably a mirage. We will have a “normal” but it won’t be what we remember. It will be new. Some things will be a welcome change. Losses will be permanent. Other things will come back as they were but people may no longer be interested. As we look back on 2020 in the next decade, I don’t think we’ll see a stop/start kind of trajectory. We’ll see an evolution to a new way of living that is both good and bad, painful and celebratory – just like the normal we had before the plague.