Hi, loves. 🌿
On these long, long confusing years
Can we talk about Covid for one second?
I know, I know, nobody — nobody! — wants to. (Maybe I’ve already lost some of you?) I don’t want to, like, at all. I am just as over this as anybody else. But it seems that in an effort to not talk about it anymore, we’ve somehow managed to declare it over, which is the most bizarre reality fuck because…it is so obviously not done with us?
I have no idea what to do with the cognitive dissonance of this, how we are asked to tolerate it — internalize it? integrate it? ignore it? — over and over and over again.
Please know: there’s no judgement left; we are so far gone on that one, there seems to be no moral ground, no sense, no plan, no order, no there there, no end game. I am simply trying to reconcile what I see as two opposing realities playing out in real time, and my total inability to make sense of where I stand.
On the one hand, my social media feed is proof that life has returned to a joyful normal for so many people, most maybe — friends at concerts, indoor weddings, travels to Europe, drinking in crowded bars, etc. On the other hand, I have several friends with long Covid; one with a debilitating post-viral infection, after a double wallop of the flu and Covid; one of my students went abroad with ten other women, eight of whom got Covid; one friend’s daughter hasn’t been able to smell for months. And this is just in my own orbit — the New York Times has its own scary news about long Covid.
And also, no less real or important: kids are doing well unmasked at school! Some people get mildly sick and move on! We need to live normal lives if we are to not go insane, especially when this is so clearly never going to change! We’ve gotta learn to live like this! All true!
Some of you are, I know, rolling your eyes at me for even still grappling with this. You have moved on.
I write this all down because I still have not a single clue how to live. I don’t know which reality to choose or to believe or to trust or to, perhaps more importantly, relax into. For the most part, I feel okay with where we are as a family, which is still more cautious than most but more open than we once were. I don’t feel particularly confined or anxious. I do all the things I want to do — eat out, go to outdoor concerts, see friends, teach in-person, shop, swim — and keep my mask on more than others might. But I am also aware that I cannot sustain this…forever.
I want to be clear: when I say I still have not a single clue how to live, I don’t mean masking and boosters and testing and quarantining. This is all clear to me: any guides like this make me feel crazier because they feel so glaringly obvious at this point. (Guides like this, too.) I mean psychologically. I mean watching two narratives play out at once and not knowing which to trust. When I see friends out on worldly adventures I think I’ve lost my mind, staying as restricted as we have. And when yet another friend has to take months off of work because of fatigue and brain fog from long Covid (caught on a worldly adventure), I feel grateful for our cautious stance.
How the fuck are we meant to make sense of any of this? And will we ever stop having to make all these fucking decisions? Will I one day say, Who cares? This isn’t living? Or is this now my version of living?
Many people have said to me they were gratefully to have “finally” gotten it, even if they were quite sick. Others were not so thrilled. Others say, “we’re all going to get it eventually!” which is, of course, true (we are very much in the minority), but recent stories about the long months of recovery have made “just getting it” seem much less appealing. And also the number of kids I’ve heard getting it and having basically nary a symptom is high! So!
Honestly, I don’t even know anymore, and I feel more and more insane in my not-knowing.
This winter we are going on a big adventure abroad and it struck me that this might not be like the Before Times, when we were game for anything — popping into any restaurant, onto any bus or tram or show or concert or spa. Or will we be? I have no idea. It’s hard to know exactly what to make of the world anymore, or of my place in it.
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