What did you say to yourself around April 15th? How about March 2nd? I keep trying to log my memory for what my previous self thought at different stages throughout this pandemic.
- In February, when most people first started hearing the rumblings of it all, I thought this whole thing was just being exaggerated and dramatized by the news. I thought it would be similar to when a tiny snow storm in NYC is suddenly heraled as “THE POLAR VORTEX.” I’d say to coworkers things like:
- It’s no different than the flu.
- Just build your immune system.
- The people who use hand sanitizer religiously are usually the people who get sick the most!
- In March I thought, ok this is pretty serious… But the U.S. will take care of it, just like we always do and we’ll be fine. On March 11th, President Trump banned travel to the U.S. from Europe. The next morning, Lauren and I reluctantly got on a flight to Mexico for a trip we paid a lot of money for, feeling guilty and a bit scared that our country may not let us back in, but ignorantly optimistic that we’d be ok.
- April: “I imagine we’ll be back in the office and ‘back to normal’ sometime in the summer.” We scheduled weekly Zoom meetings with friends and family, consuming more bottles of wine than my recycling bin expected in such a short span…
- In May, I stopped watching the news. Alcohol consumption continued to rise. Still, nothing was open other than the grocery stores and some exceptional rarities that gave way to shocked looks. Mask wearing becomes somewhat ‘required’ in an unwritten-rule-sort-of-way. Some people think “Not so fast!”
- June marked three months. One quarter of the year isn’t so bad. I start to think at some point we have to let small businesses re-open and allow them take that risk, right? (as safely as possible, of course). I booked a beach house on Fire Island with some friends. Quarantine Blackout count = 3
- July meant it was time for a true summer vacation. I was burnt out from the Groundhog’s Day routine of waking up and working all day from my tiny apartment ‘office.’ I took a week off with Lauren, golfed as much as possible and didn’t attend a single Zoom meeting.
- Now we’re midway through August. It’s been five months and not much has changed since May. I’m able to eat at my favorite restaurants (not indoors in NYC yet), I can get a haircut, I can now go bowling (yipee!), and I’m technically able to fly domestically if I really needed to.
But here we are, it’s been five months, maybe six depending on where you want to start the clock. I last went into my office on Monday, March 10th, surprised my company had yet to announce a closure of any kind. The following morning I walked into the lobby of One World Trade Center to learn that our offices were closing immediately due to several positive COVID cases in the building.
Has much really changed since March? Other than the graduality of businesses re-opening, we now have to wear masks everywhere. That is the new norm. In some cases, like when being seated at a restaurant, we are able to free ourselves from the mask. But Lauren, a medical professional, is coming to grips that she will most likely have to wear a mask to work for the rest of her life. I haven’t taken the subway since March 11th. I haven’t had my daily Sweetgreen salad since March 11th. I’ve only been in Manhattan twice since March 11th. Grateful are those who have access to a car. I know several friends who have either bought or leased a car in the last month. People are moving back in with their parents, leaving their apartment leases months early, buying homes in the suburbs, renting places on the beach, in the woods, or in the mountains. “Why go back?” some say. We’re perfectly fine from here. All you need is an internet connection.