Well, what do you know. Here I am again. I guess anything really is possible.
So I suppose the polite thing would be to tell you what I’ve been up to in the last eight years since I was last a semi-professional blogger. The answer is, I don’t really recall. I might’ve changed jobs, I might’ve had more kids, I might’ve moved to Saskatchewan, it’s honestly all a blur. I think Donald Trump might’ve been president for a while. Boy, what a stupid idea that was. And something else. What was it? Oh, yeah! The worldwide pandemic that killed millions of people! Have you heard about this? It’s so stupid.
So obviously everybody has a story about COVID-19 and how it’s completely upended your existence by now. Mine isn’t completely end-of-the-worldish, but I also wouldn’t describe it as anything close to pleasant. We’ve all suffered to varying degrees, and my intent is not to make light of what anyone’s been through. Like you, I’m still coping with what’s been lost and what’s still to come. That disclaimer aside, let’s plunge face-first into the abyss.
In late 2019 was when I first heard the word “coronavirus.” My first thought of it was the same first stupid joke that almost everybody came up with on Twitter at the time: “Coronavirus? That sounds like it’d be great mixed with Lyme disease!” Hardy har, yuck yuck, wokka wokka, we were all so incredibly stupid back then. Anyhoo, I figured back then that things would end up going the way that all of the things have gone – ebola, bird flu, monkeypox, the yippie skippies, etc. – it’ll be fine. It’ll burn out. Hardly anybody will even notice.
As a prognosticator, I really suck. Chuck Todd levels.
So on literally my daughter’s birthday in 2020 was when shit met fan. She had 2-3 parties that weekend, one at home, one at the bowling alley and one at an art school. We were around people and making jokes about not shaking anyone’s hands and a little nervous but otherwise okay. And then I went to work the next day and they sent us home with our computers and it’s over two years later and I’ve yet to go back.
Don’t read that wrong. I still have a job. I just do it at home now. Like a lot of you, and also unlike a lot of you, depending on your supervisor’s interest in his freedom to exhale anything directly into your nostrils at any time he cares to. What’s it like working at home? I like it. A lot. To the point where I’ve made myself a bunker in my basement and forgotten what sunshine feels like. Suffice it to say, I’m not going back and you can’t make me.
Beyond that change, how else was my life affected? Well, as someone who enjoys wearing a face mask in public and not having anyone standing six feet within his space at any given time, things were pretty sweet for Old Erik for a while. I can see how other people who are more social than I (which is a very, very low bar to clear) could have been negatively affected by the complete shutdown of civilization, but I’ll be honest, I kind of liked it. Wish we would go back to that. Other people would bring food to my door, and then not even expect me to open the door and acknowledge their existence! Living the dream!
Then all the people started dying and I started losing my mind and it was all a bit of a buzzkill.
I know people who have lost loved ones to COVID. I am a person who lost someone during COVID but not to COVID. My mother passed away the beginning of 2021. Because of COVID protocols, she couldn’t have her entire family in the same room with her as she left. It sucks, and it hurts, and I’m still recovering/not sure if I’ll ever be close to done recovering. COVID didn’t take my mom but it certainly complicated her last year to a degree that still makes me angry to think about, and it took a lot of other people’s moms from them. And dads. And children. And grandparents. And friends and cousins and neighbors What I’ve gone through, I’m not close to being special. The only thing that’s spread farther than COVID is grief. So many people infected.
I did get COVID myself. I tested positive for COVID in February of this year. I’ve been vaccinated so my case was mild. But it’s lingered to an extent. I cough a lot more. Most nights I rasp myself to sleep still. It could be allergies, it could be asthma, it could be just a really prolonged cold. All I know is that something is different and I hope that it changes, but it might not.
It was upsetting getting sick, because of how hard I tried not to. Like I said, I vaccinated, I masked, I took it seriously and responsibly like a grown-ass adult should have. Partly because my mom told me to, frequently, but mostly because I wanted to protect the people I loved. Can I prevent the people I care about most from getting sick? Not entirely, obviously. But if an unknown disease with no known remedies pops up and is highly transmissible, I was going to do everything that I could do to keep that out of my house and away from my family. So I did it. I trusted the science. I still got COVID, but they didn’t. I’ll still keep doing anything I can do to keep it that way.
It was an annoyance when people started losing their minds in the face of a new enemy, and started to do things that made it seem like they were taking the germ’s side. Complaining about wearing a mask. Harassing those of us who did. Demanding their “freedom” to cough into a stranger’s open mouth. Pretending that a miracle vaccine developed in record time was somehow “unsafe.” Convincing themselves and the more gullible to not take it. For what? Politics? I still don’t understand the benefits of fooling yourself at the potential cost of your own life. For a belief. The only thing that could possibly suck more than a non-preventable death of a loved one would have been a preventable one. If I had facilitated the demise of any other person on this planet with something that I said, or believed, or didn’t push back against, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. I don’t know how others are able to. Still.
And now we are where we are, with the pandemic becoming an endemic and people largely watching out for themselves or just pretending that the last two years of human history didn’t even happen. I envy those of you whose biggest loss was simply time, at the movie theater or restaurants or with your loved ones. Those with a normal to return to. For so many of us, there is now two phases in their lives – the before and the after. I hope you’re in the former group. I hope you still have the same amount of people to hug today as you did in 2019. I don’t know how many people can say that, but I hope it’s a lot. I wish we could all go back to how things used to be. We can’t, but it’d be nice.
So I guess we just take back what we can. For me, that’s blogging the sod. Like I used to. In the before.