Needing normalcy

Julia Herman, Editor-in-Chief

My housemates and I going to a pumpkin patch on Halloween. As the crowds started to pile in, we left to avoid the lack of social distancing. (Courtesy of Julia Herman)

Three missed calls. Four missed Facetimes. A few unanswered texts.

I slept through my Facetime Christmas this year. I think that sums up how my life has been in the pandemic: slow, yet anxiety-inducing.

As I rolled over and saw the time on my phone accompanied by the messages of my family saying they missed me, I felt an ache in my chest.

I made the decision not to travel home for the holidays this year because I didn’t want to risk traveling and spreading anything to my family.

I kept telling myself that it was my choice to not go home, but really it felt like it wasn’t my choice. It was the safe and right choice to make. I could never live with myself knowing that I potentially spread something to my immunocompromised family members.

I miss my sister and brother a lot. I wish more than anything that I could just give them a hug right now. It’s been almost a year since the last time I have seen them.

This year has been rough. The way we move through life has completely changed. I have taken my temperature more times than I can count. My weekly screen time notification reminds me of how little I put my devices down. When I watch movies, I always panic for a slight second not seeing their masks. I don’t think I could pick out the unmasked faces of my new work friends in a crowd (not that it would happen anytime soon.)

My housemates and I went to the pumpkin patch early in the morning. It was empty when we first got there, and it felt normal for the first time in months to be out in the open. (Courtesy of Julia Herman)

This year brought forward a new form of struggle I had never experienced before. I questioned daily about my life choices and wanted nothing more than to experience the normalcy of spending time with my family and friends. I wanted more than ever just to put my life on pause and crawl into the covers of my bed and never come out.

What keeps me going is thinking of all the hugs I can give after the vaccine.

A year ago I thought I had my life figured out. I thought I knew what I wanted to do when I graduated. I thought I knew the people I wanted to spend my life with and the places that I wanted to go.

The pandemic really put my life into perspective. I realized now that I don’t have to have it all figured out and that people and interests come and go and that the change is good. I have come to enjoy different things and have met new people.

I oddly have a hard time remembering what it felt like before the lockdown. Sometimes when I walk through the doors of work, I remember what it felt like to not wear a mask or talk to someone within arms reach. But for the most part, pre pandemic life seems like a distant memory.

Last March felt like centuries ago. But I am itching to reach this next one. I just want to keep moving forward. I want to sit in the same car as my friends. Celebrate birthdays. Go to concerts and movies. Fly on airplanes.

My friends and I play this game of “I can’t wait till I can…” Most times it’s things like go to a restaurant or go on runs without a mask. It reminds us of the things we miss. It brings us hope for what we might be able to do in the future.

I can’t wait till I can go sit in a coffee shop. I can’t wait till I can see my mom again. I can’t wait till I can breathe again.

I don’t want to sleep through my next Christmas. I don’t want to open presents over Facetime. I am holding onto that hope that things will get better.