Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy. Since the pandemic I have a new understanding of time, I think back to last May when I was finally called back into work, how things were slowly reopening and people were eager but cautious to step go out again. Here we are, a year later, and people are getting vaccinated. In my province eighteen and up were able to book for their appointments, many of my friends have just received or will be receiving their first doses, and I was lucky enough to become fully vaccinated last Monday. All of these things are good, things are improving, people’s bodies are forming anti-bodies and some people who refused to wear masks are finally deciding to do so (even though the logic behind it is…questionable). Trudeau is telling people about our “one dose summer” and Ford is talking about reopening outdoor activities starting June 2nd, and people are excited, naturally, but I can’t help but feel nervous.
It’s not that I don’t want things to reopen, only that with the mess of how Ontario has attempted to reopen the province as well as our mess of a vaccine rollout system, I worry that with the nice weather our political leaders will reopen the province and country too quickly, allowing travelling across the border and inter-provincially and that we’ll have a fourth wave as some news outlets are predicting. Because this happens, this keeps happening, and I’m getting tired of it. I’ve been cautious for over a year now, worried about the possibility of catching COVID and passing it onto my immunocompromised sister or anyone else who is at risk, and I worry because I’ve seen so many people make excuses for themselves during the pandemic, giving themselves permission for why they don’t have to socially distance and the lack of fines being issued by law enforcement proving that there are no consequences for not listening to lockdown. While most of my friends follow protocols many of them have also broken lockdown or have proudly said that they would if their living situation was different. I know too many people going to other destinations far from home, people who look at me strange and think I’m overreacting when I confront them on this.
So I’m worried about diving into normal, as Ontario has repeatedly attempted for most of the pandemic, and I’m worried about peoples reactions. About the people I know who travelled across the border, who visited people outside their household or told me they would if they didn’t already live with them, of people who travel to far cities and towns because they “needed” to get away. I see people who already after their first dose start interacting with people without waiting two weeks for the antibodies to form, who believe they are invincible when it is still possible to get COVID even after being fully vaccinated. I worry for the people who will tell me that the pandemic was hard when they spent a year breaking it, when they will resume to normal and pretend that they sacrificed when they didn’t. And I worry because I am so incredibly angry and so tired because there will be people who say it wasn’t that bad, who resume to normal so easily when I know I will be paranoid for months after this pandemic ends, who will back away when someone doesn’t wear a mask near me, because I don’t know what normal is anymore, and I don’t think I can return to it.
There will be a new normal for some of us while some of us will happily jump into the old normal, because they’ve been living without restrictions the entire pandemic and once the pandemic is over will have an excuse to return to it without being shunned. And I don’t know what I will do around those people. I don’t know how I’ll be able to sit with them, talk to them, if I’ll be able to laugh with them while biting my tongue, while boiling with anger knowing that they chose their own comforts over the health of strangers.
I am scared of normal, because jumping into normal, as Ontario has already done means death for some, death for strangers that many already don’t care about. And I can’t do anything to fix it, I don’t know what to do anymore to make people care for others. So all I can do is wait, continue being cautious, continue being silently mocked while the province eagerly throws themselves in and, sadly and inevitable, wait the announcement of our next wave.