During Wartime

When all of this started, I remember clearly thinking to myself that I didn’t want to normalize the lockdown, the quarantine, sheltering in place, any of it. It felt strange for everything to be closed, for the outside world to be so still while the inside one was so chaotic — more people here now, all the time, and one of them is seven years old and loud — and I promised myself that I would try my best to remember that this was an aberration, a break from the norm, instead of the “new normal,” whatever that may mean.

By now, I’m having trouble remembering what life was like before plaguetimes hit.

In my defense, it’s been two months now, a figure that seems difficult to fully comprehend because, as many have pointed out, time feels elastic and meaningless in a number of ways. At some point a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I’d genuinely forgotten how long we’d been in lockdown — I was trying to count the weeks and failing, eventually coming up with a figure of “eight, maybe nine weeks, perhaps it’s seven.” The confusion felt correct in some inexplicable manner. (It was the eighth week, for those wondering.)

I can remember everything from before the shutdown in an abstract way, of course, as a series of “we used to…”s — we used to go out to dinner, we used to go to the movies, we used to go to the grocery store and it was fun and not an existential terror ride where you don’t even want to squeeze past the person blocking the aisle because they can’t decide what kind of pasta they want and why aren’t they even wearing a mask, what the hell is this…?!? That kind of thing. I can remember the shape, but not the color, the way it actually felt. That feels important, to have lost that memory.

And, again, it’s been two months. An indistinct number of weeks. Of course things are going from memory like that. This is the new normal now, just as whatever comes next, whatever unusual world will come post-lockdown, will be a new new normal; you can’t fight it, not really. But there’s something sad to me about what I’ve lost along the way, and will likely never get back.

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