Wide Awake: Ready or Not
Going back to normal doesn’t feel so normal

Like most people, I spent my pre-pandemic days moving. I would see people and talk to them. I went places (usually in a dress). Life kept happening, and I moved through it automatically knowing what was next. But soon it will be post-pandemic – I think – and I’m not sure how that works.

A few weekends ago, in an attempt to be normal, Joe and I did something we used to love: We went to NYC for the weekend. Just the 2 of us. We got last-minute tickets to a show and planned to spend the day at MOMA. I told Joe I also wanted to walk through Central Park even though the temperature would be in the 20s.

When we arrived, I quickly realized I had forgotten a hat, scarf and gloves. And a toothbrush. And my pillow. (Long story, but my pillow = no back pain.) And when it was time to get ready for the show, I discovered I had forgotten my makeup. All of it.

I’ve been noticing that going out and being an active member of society seems…odd. Not normal. Uncomfortable. It’s like we’ve all been waiting and waiting to get back to normal living but as it approaches, I’m not so sure how to do it.

Last fall, we held our first in-person event – our Women of Excellence Awards, which is one of my favorite nights. Every year we honor 6 incredible women and many times, they are women who haven’t been honored before. So at this event, I get to introduce them to the audience and show how awesome they are. I love doing it. I consider myself very lucky that I’m the one who gets to say, “Look – aren’t they amazing?” I’ve done it for 6 years now (minus 2020, of course).

But on the afternoon of last year’s event, I told Joe I was feeling a little nervous. I hadn’t spoken like this for almost 2 years, and I wasn’t so sure how I would feel once I walked on stage. At this event, I don’t use notes or a written speech, I just talk about what I know of the women. I wondered if I would still feel relaxed speaking off the cuff in front of a crowd. I worried I might not remember what I wanted to say or I might not connect with the audience. I didn’t know for sure if I could make this night as wonderful as all the others, and I wanted to do that for the honorees. Thoughts like this were flying through my head all day.

I guess it all came down to: Was I still the same person?

Many, many times during lockdown, I would say to Joe, “So when this is over, we’re all just going back to who we were, to what we used to do? We’ll just go back?” He would very confidently say yes, and even look at me like he didn’t know why I was asking. But I wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem logical. We had experienced nonstop change and disappointment and trauma. What comes after that?

I think the answer is: We don’t know.

At September’s event, I stopped thinking about it, went on stage and did what I had done in years past. The entire night was simply wonderful. It seemed very natural. It actually felt as if 2 awful years hadn’t just happened.

But in New York, going away again didn’t feel natural. That was evident when I was missing a few things I would have instinctively packed in the past. It shook me a bit, wondering how I forgot winter gear when I was looking forward to a long walk outside, or makeup when I had planned a fun night in Manhattan. The universe was reminding me that life isn’t the same. I’m not the same. Because something big just happened, and it happened for a really long time.

We still had fun in NYC though, we just had these little hurdles. So maybe that’s what the future will be, at least for a little while. Maybe some days will be just like they used to be. And some won’t be so great and will remind us we’re not exactly who we were. We’ll enjoy what comes natural, and get through the small challenges. Then maybe one day we’ll feel life is normal. And we’ll know what that means.

March 2022
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