I don’t know where you are in the midst of all of this, but I’m stuck in a weird place. I want things to go back to the way they were before, but I also realize I don’t even know what normal is any more.
There is no going back.
However, as we move forward, here and now has changed us, and our new normal will be defined as just that. Something new.
Combine that with a part of me that has gotten used to the way things are now, and you have a mighty “combobulation.” Yes, I know that’s not a word, but technically I’m a teacher now, so just go with it.
People are wearing masks and looking at people who aren’t wearing masks like they’re crazy and standing in long lines with stores only letting a few in at a time and trying to do grocery shopping by not touching anything or getting close to anyone or going down the aisle the wrong way. I’m certainly finding out all the different errands I can get done in my car. There are many empty parking lots and long lines at drive-thrus. Parents are attempting to teach their mini selves. There are birthday parades and home prom with parents and zoom meetings for work and happy hour in search of an inkling of friendly interaction. Churches are closed churches and alcohol sales are up. And, we’re still feeling like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done—a big, huge “combobulation.”
But, in the middle of all the crazy, there are parts of this quarantine life that I’m secretly loving, with nothing to do in the evenings and all of us being together in the day and watching all the neighbors ride their bikes by. And all of the home-cooked meals and trying to-go food at restaurants I’ve never heard of before. Bedtime and lunchtime and bath time being whenever we want, because all of our schedules have been freed up. There is no need to rush through anything. And that is all really nice. But I am also ready for a future of something different.
Unfortunately, we don’t even know what that is or when that is or what it’s going to look like. I am longing for a familiarity that I can hold on to. A yesterday that I remember and look back on with a peace of mind. But the more talk I hear about returning with face masks and crowd control and still remaining six feet apart, the more I want to scream my head off and go a little insane. At least it’s happy in the crazy place. I may be wearing a pink straight jacket, but there is no social distancing when it comes to tackling a runner. At least I’d be getting my hugs in.
I’m just saying, a part of me is thinking that going a little crazy sounds a bit like a vacation at this point. Anyone else with me? Anyone else been praying for relief and felt agreeable to a possible 14-day quarantine, admission into crazy town, or even maybe a little jail time just to get some sort of actual social interaction? Because, man. When you are a hugger, the struggle is real.
And the struggle leaves you in a weird place. A weird place full of all of this “combobulation.” All you can do is just continue on. Continue going through these new motions that are becoming familiar. Continue coming up with creative ways that keep us close to a familiar past. Continue on looking forward to chips and salsa on the patio of your favorite Mexican food restaurant. Continue on valuing the things we once took for granted.
I appreciate the people staying at work and doing the hard things, and I’m taking advantage of slow evenings out on the front porch that feel more like Mayberry than ever before. A new day will come. And we will cheerfully greet it when it gets here, hopefully, with a big, full-on monstrosity of a hug. But I know there will be things I will miss and long to go back to.