A Mid-Pandemic Retrospective

Back in March of 2020, when we were first shutting down due to the severity of the impact to our hospitals brought upon us due to the COVID-19 outbreaks, I’ll admit, I felt a little weird. Like, things were shut down. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. Suddenly my kids were home 100% of the time. Plans were cancelled. Future trips were in question. And for the first time in my life, more so than the September 11th attacks even, I felt as though the world was being irrevocably changed.

But, then…it didn’t actually feel all that different. Yeah, we hunkered down and spent most of our time outside instead of doing the indoor activities we also liked. We didn’t see our friends or family…but, the busy road in front of my house was still busy. When I drove around town, all the roads were still just as busy as ever. I think I expected a sudden ghost town appearance to the world once the quarantines happened, but instead, the world still kinda felt like it was humming along rather like normal.

There were a few times where I got this haunting feeling that things were different as I walked around my world, but really, the haunting thing was: it wasn’t.

There were certainly moments where it was impossible to recognize the impact COVID was having on my world. I remember going to my favorite steakhouse to pick up dinner because they were offering a special on the food they had ordered for St. Patrick’s day before they had to completely close their doors. This also happened to be the exact time all the bars around town had to close. While I was waiting in a socially distanced line where no one was talking to each other and we all gave furtive glances around the room behind our masks, the street erupted into this sudden absolutely ridiculous amount of noise as everyone was pushed out of the bar for an incredibly early last call which would be the last call for months.

I remember seeing the sign on the golf course across the street blaming COVID for being closed. Heck, even the local downtown movie theater isn’t reopening until later this month.

And I remember the feeling of going into grocery stores, with a mix between people who were terrified of being out in the world and others who would fight at the entrance about how they had a medical/religious reason for not wearing a mask. I remember the feeling of holding my breath whenever I walked past someone while searching for the items I was tasked with picking up, assuming this would somehow help avoid the spread.

But these all felt like exceptions, as opposed to the actual reality. For the first time in my life, I was actually directly impacted by the big news events the news reports were talking about, but, well, it still didn’t really feel all that different.

I had worked from home for 10 years already by this point. Having the kids home all the time was a bit much, but wasn’t all that uncommon during the summers anyway. And as we were just coming out of winter when things shut down, it was pretty normal for us to want to spend all our time outside.

But then I started talking to some of my friends who were a bit more directly impacted, such as the director of our regional theater who was having to suddenly cancel shows which meant they were looking to have to fire off all their staff because they simply couldn’t afford to pay anyone.

Or my friends in the medical community who were quarantining themselves from their own families because they didn’t want to possibly pass on anything they had gotten during their extreme overtime hours.

Heck, there was even the guy who worked in a customer facing role whose wife is immunocompromised, who would strip down in their back yard and put his clothes in the washing machine before he even walked in the house so as to avoid passing anything along.

Sure, I’ve been wearing masks and cancelling trips, but I’ve not had to fear anything outside of passing this disease on to someone else throughout all of this. My life has been pretty cushy for a pandemic, and I have a feeling this is true for many of us.

But there are far more who are still struggling to get through this pandemic. People like my friend who lives in constant fear he’s going to have to cancel the few shows he’s managing to put on at his theater. Or the friends who didn’t see their family for weeks as they fought on the front lines to try to keep as many people alive as possible while their colleagues fell victim to this impossibly virulent disease. Or, the people I don’t know who are starving because we simply don’t have enough ability to ship aid to places we’ve long shipped aid to.

I spent months trying to figure out why things didn’t feel all that different for me before I realized it was because of how blessed of a life I lead. There are so many others who were simply and suddenly out of work and have spent the last year and a half fighting to figure out how to stay alive, while I sit here and question when I’ll be able to travel freely again.

I’ve been lucky…and I’m guessing that especially if you’re unvaccinated and/or unmasked, so have you. Maybe you should think about those who have been struggling their way through this pandemic before you decide to continue being unwilling to suffer even the most minor of inconveniences as a way of saving the world.

In other words, as I’ve said many times already since the blog came back: wear a mask and get vaccinated. Save the world.

Published by Adam Oster, Adventure Novelist

Husband, Father, Creator/Destroyer of Worlds

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