You’re eleven months into the pandemic.
You stopped checking death stats ages ago, your pajamas have fused to your skin, and you forget to take your mask off inside your own house.
You’re not sad or restless anymore; you’ve just accepted this as the toll you must pay for being alive in the years 2020 and 2021. Now that you’ve turned this corner, it’s almost alarming how much you’ve stopped missing things.
Is it the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit? Is it the advice to continue isolating post-vaccination, which is so hopeless as to feel laughable? Is it the Wellbutrin you started taking to combat your summertime depression?
Whatever it is, you have fully settled in. You have pitched a tent, and you’re in it for the long haul now. You miss nobody. You wouldn’t go places even if you could. You will die in this house.
You remember travel, but it seems like another lifetime. You know you used to go to stores but are hard-pressed to remember why. You will never return to a time before you stopped wearing bras to the grocery store.
Memories of your old life surface in flashes. You are washing a dish when you remember that before all this, you were making a new best friend. It was still blossoming, still fresh and exciting. Will that still be waiting for you on the other side of this?
You are eating tacos the third night in a row when you remember you used to try a new restaurant every Friday. This seems so lavish and foreign now, like the type of life led only by a king. How did you never notice you were living like a king?
You’re writing more than ever these days: before work, on your lunch break, and straight up until bed. You write to coffee shop sounds on YouTube, and you’ve come to feel cosmically connected to the baristas. You anticipate their lines. They are your found family.
When you think about this ending, you no longer think in terms of getting to go back; you now think of it as being forced. Who will you be by the time life pries you out of this house? You’re not who you were eleven months ago; you are simultaneously tamer and more wild.
Will the world still recognize you when you’re forced to return?
And will you still recognize the world?