Things will be ‘normal’ someday … whatever that means

The other day, as I was again contemplating the question of how we can send a man to the moon and store all of the world’s information in a device small enough to fit in the front pocket of the jacket I was wearing but not develop a snowplow that creates massive snowbanks at the end of every driveway (see also: umbrellas that don’t disintegrate in the wind), I had to stop so I could get more gas for my snowblower.

When I got back to the top of my driveway, my neighbor from across the street was there. He was taking his adorable, excitable puppy for a walk, and when I said hello, the puppy wrapped herself and her leash around my leg.

I mentioned to her owner that I had noticed his granddaughter taking the puppy for a walk a couple days earlier, and that when she took off running down the street, the puppy was so excited to run with her.

Chuckling, he said the problem now is that the puppy wanted to do the same thing with him and that … just wasn’t going to happen.

The conversation couldn’t have lasted longer than a minute or two before he and the puppy set out for their walk and I put gas in my snowblower to continue attacking the giant snowbank and the 18 inches or so of snow in the driveway and on top of the cars.

And then it dawned on me — I hadn’t been wearing a mask.

Because why would I have been to clean the driveway?

I went through a quick calculation — we were probably more than six feet apart, plus I spent most of the time crouching to pet the puppy, but still … .

I was listening to a radio interview with Dr. Irwin Redlener where he said he wanted people to share with him online what “normal” would look like after the pandemic.

The easy answer is “when everything is like it was before,” but that could include “I can go to a baseball game” or “I can travel again” or “I can see a movie in the theater” or “My favorite singer will go on tour again” or “I can hug my family members and friends” or “I can eat dinner in a restaurant again” or whatever ideas people have on their minds for when all of this is finally over.

The problem is that there’s not going to be a day where we wake up to an announcement that everything is fixed, or at least fixed enough so that everything is basically OK.

But here’s the thing … we — and by “we,” I mostly mean “Americans,” since I am one and America is where I live — can travel now if we want to. There may be restrictions on where we can go and rules for once we get there, but there are planes available to take us to whatever places we’re able to go.

Some — not many, but some — sporting events are selling tickets, and more could be on the way.

My gym has been open for months.

There are restaurants with indoor dining, including the place where I picked up this week’s pizza.

The Super Bowl is this weekend, and people will still be throwing parties.

People shop, in stores.

There are places where at least some children are going to school in person or could be soon.

So there is a percentage of “normal” that’s out there already. The problem is there are people taking a lot more than what is wise — I’ll consider myself fortunate to get on a plane next January — which could put “normal,” however we define it, that much further away.

And during that time, more businesses are going to be devastated, more people are going to lose their jobs, more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die.

Even if it weren’t required, you won’t be catching me indoors anywhere other than my own house not wearing a mask.

I played pickleball all summer, usually multiple times a week, until I stopped in early November because I wanted to shut it down and keep my circle tight before the holidays.

Instead of the usual gatherings of whatever 20 to 30 people showed up, we were asked to limit ourselves to the same small groups, so I basically played with the same six to eight people. We also eschewed the standard fist or racket bumps at the net after each game, settling for waves or bows instead, to provide a little more distancing.

It was outside, and I wore a mask from the time I got out of my car to the time I got back in.

Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have played — I haven’t played inside for about a year, and have no plans to any time soon — but I decided I wanted to play and it was probably safe enough to be comfortable.

If baseball with fans does come back this year, I’ll think about it, depending on what the rules are.

I’ve heard that my gym thoroughly cleaned and has a lot of protocols in place, but even though we’ve kept up our memberships, I have no idea when we’ll be back.

Even if it weren’t required, you won’t be catching me indoors anywhere other than my own house not wearing a mask.

Yet any and all of these activities carry with them negotiating with myself to determine if I was comfortable, and then deciding what precautions I wanted to take. And that calculus could change depending on variants, when we or the people we know get vaccinated, or both.

It’s an inconvenience, but it’s worth it to try and stay safe and keep others safe.

I don’t know when the day will come where I can do anything from talk to my neighbor while playing with his puppy to sitting in a concert while being completely comfortable, but to me, that’s the last step between now and “normal.”

How will you determine that life has gotten back to “normal”?


18 thoughts on “Things will be ‘normal’ someday … whatever that means

  1. yeah I feel guilty when talk to people at home and realize I haven’t been wearing a mask. I have to reassure myself that I must have been standing 6 feet away… I don’t think life will ever go back to normal to be honest. I think we will transition to a new normal after this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really miss it, too. What makes it worse is that we like to watch a lot of travel shows! For example, Suzi’s talking about going to Barcelona for her birthday next year, and we watched a show focused on Barcelona last night. She kept adding things to the itinerary!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think “normal” will be when I can be around strangers and not have to think about how far apart we are or if we’re wearing masks. Until then, we’re just living a different version of normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Normal will be the kids in school, himself at work at work, swimming and rugby back on, able to see my parents whenever and wherever, able to meet my friends for coffee or even cocktails, and ok to take a holiday – but most all, do those things without fear. That’s going to be LONG time coming, much longer than when we’re allowed to do them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michelle

    I don’t even remember what normal is anymore. I can’t imagine going anywhere without a mask and hand sanitiser. I can’t believe there was a time I just let people breath all over me 🙂 But seriously, I think ‘normal’ would just be not having to wear masks everywhere.

    All the best, Michelle (

    Liked by 1 person

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