Do you remember the moment you realized everything was changing?
March 11, 2020. I took this photo downtown Chicago. My colleague and I were attending a shareholders meeting. We arrived early and stopped into a coffee shop to waste time. We ordered our drinks and sat down inside to enjoy them.
Two days later, I posted on my private Facebook page that I was “grocery shopping for the apocalypse.” I remember secretly wishing we’d get to work from home for a couple days, as if this was nothing more than a snow storm.
The next week Indiana started shutting things down. In the chaos that ensued, I remember another colleague coming in my office and sitting down. He’s a bit older and wiser than I am. He told me to go back to the grocery store and get canned food, just in case the power went out. I think that was #TheMoment I realized this wasn’t just a long weekend. This was going to be different.
In those initial months, people made mistakes. We went overboard trying to protect ourselves (wiping all of my groceries with Clorox wipes before bringing them inside, for example). Some leaders didn’t understand or grasp the fear and anxiety. Governments didn’t think about things long term. The CDC gave conflicting advice.
But I’m not upset about those things. We didn’t know what we were facing. We were all learning together.
No, I’m angry at what COVID-19 stole from us. Of course, the people who lost their lives. And also a sense of control. Canceled events. Holidays with family. Freedom to move around in this germ-filled world without thinking twice about it. An innocence we didn’t know we had.
A year later I’m registered for the vaccine. I hope my turn comes soon. I’m trying to take precautions to stay healthy until then. And I’d like to think we’ll get it all back. Life before the pandemic.
Will we? The changes won’t be as drastic as it all felt in March of 2020. They’ll be subtle. But it will always be different now.