By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

The Missus and I went to a sushi restaurant in Dallas yesterday, a rare treat. The restaurant was pretty empty, everyone was spaced out pretty well with reasonable a barrier between tables, and everything was well cleaned and sanitized.

A thought occurred to me how there had been a time when I never had these considerations in describing a restaurant to someone. How absurd it would have sounded this time a year ago. How absurd the description still sounds even now.

It’s crazy to think things were still “normal” this time last year, or more appropriately, how things had always been for everyone’s lives. I remember talking about COVID-19 when it was a fringe subject, something that lingered in the backgrounds as much as your SARS and Zikas and Bird and Swine flus. Who really thought about it? That never affected the day to day in my world. That was someone else’s problem.

Yet COVID never seemed to go away during those early spring days of last year. It kept lingering like that one party guest who should be going home because it’s getting late and you’re tired of them. And then at some point, it announced it was moving in, but wasn’t going to pay rent.

No, I’m not going to retell “The Story of COVID” because we’ve all lived with it. We’ve all been living with it for nearly a year now.

But here we are a year later, and it didn’t “go away in a few days” like some had predicted to me. I had somewhat hoped we’d be in a better state right now, not taking into consideration the holiday season.

I’ve thought to how strangely “used” to this new environment I’ve become, and how I’m not a fan of the fact that I’ve “adjusted” to everything.

My standard day to day is relatively normal. I still take long walks for exercise. I still watch a lot of movies, though I really miss the movie theater experience. I’m guessing still no conventions, or roadtrips to heavily populated areas (although most areas are still closed, so the point is moot). And for me, I’m not expecting any trips to Las Vegas for award shows this year. I kept hoping against hope last year’s shows would have gone on as before, but even then I knew I was fooling myself.

I still make some social contact with people, though distanced. It’s the Southerner in me that misses hugs and handshakes and nudging someone after I make a joke. I still have to remind myself to get out of someone else’s zone. Masks don’t really bother me, though some days I get irritated in hotter weather, or the fact this measure is still a necessary thing at all. Sometimes when meeting new people, I wonder what the rest of their face looks like. It’s become a weird new game.

As a glasses wearer, there are days where the mask legitimately drives me crazy.

Some nights I have insomnia as I struggle through trying to keep everything paid and current. Sometimes I look through old photos, missing days like Disneyland, or a concert, or a big house party. I consider myself lucky that no one in my inner circle has been lost, or if anyone has gotten it at all, the effects have been relatively minor. But I can place names to those that haven’t been as fortunate.

And sometimes I do wonder how people manage to push through the day to day like nothing at all has happened. Even playing things loosely, the world has changed, and not everything has come back. Some places have closed down for good. Some things, no matter how structured we can get our routine to be, still aren’t available. Who knows when they truly will be again.

I wonder how long all of this is going to continue before we’re able to get things better under control. Even when some places manage to get a handle on it, all it takes is a new flare-up to start an all-new outbreak.

My column this week isn’t to make some sort of social statement. It’s more an observation I had in looking around in a restaurant. How my routine has changed to “being smarter” so I can plan to stay out of higher populated areas, yet keep enough needed familiarity.

I remain optimistic things will eventually get better. We’ll get through this. I’m incredibly impatient to get through this. I keep hoping with time and changes we can get finally start getting all of this under control. I’ve already started making lists of places I want to go once the health restrictions lift.

We’re all in this together, regardless of whether we are sticking closely to the recommendations, or simply being “over it.” I think I was at a point where I needed to talk about this, to remind myself I’m not alone in this, or let others know the same. There’s going to be some permanent changes from all of this, but I’m looking forward to sitting down in a restaurant without making these more recent observations again.

The sushi was quite good, by the way. For that matter, so was the beer.

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