It’s “post-vaccine”, not “post-panemic” | Bold italics
My mother the other day on a call Zoom beamed when I told her I had booked my plane ticket to Rochestuh, New York to visit him and my brother in August. In the background, our rescue pit bull was seen snoring in his well-worn bed – the same weathered, sunken dog mattress he’s had since she and our two dogs left Argyle, TX, he about three years ago. There were pictures hanging of my brother and I reveling in our quiet youth behind her on the wall. Pretenses of life defined before coronavirus filled the screen
âIt’s finally getting back to normal here, and we can actually do things now that the pandemic is over,â she said. “I can go to the gym now and leave my face shield at home, it’s great that this is almost all over.”
Our lives as we knew them are gone; there was no way they would come back.
I know my beloved mother probably didn’t perceive her remark as anything other than vocalized catharsis; she suffers from Big Boomer Energy, after all. Although in her statement she also echoed a sentiment expressed by friends, other relatives, and even marketing campaigns for certain wellness products: The pandemic is finally officially over.
But it’s not. It is far from it. We will never live in a âpost-pandemicâ world again – but rather a âpost-vaccineâ world.
There is a danger in almost blindly dismissing the events that have unfolded over the past sixteen months. Because in doing so, we simultaneously assume that these pain points and struggles have been completely healed.
They did not do it.
Millions of people have perished around the world – the number of deaths in countries reflecting available vaccines and accessibility – and that number is growing by the day.
SARS-CoV-2 sent world economies in free fall, many of which will take years, if not decades, to fully recover. Local savings did not do better either; hundreds of restaurants in the Bay Area were either closed permanently or temporarily closed amid the pandemic; small businesses unable to adapt to the take-out model, to familiarize themselves with Square registers or to use social media as a medium for e-commerce have simply succumbed to the expectation of Covid-19 safety rules .
Millions of people have lost (and still are) behind on rents. In San Francisco, some 24,000 residents owe past rent payments caused by job losses or reduced working hours linked to Covid-19.
Historical benchmarks have been lost. A huge amount of single-use plastics were dumped in landfills. People’s mental states moved back and forth between bouts of pure survivalism and those of immediate gratitude; record rate of depression resulting from months spent isolated indoors and away from regular human contact.
Thousands of lives have been lost in the Bay Area. Tens of thousands of people have died of complications from Covid-19 in California. Hundreds of thousands of humans have been buried in the United States because of the new disease. Millions of people have perished around the world – the number of deaths in countries reflecting the availability and accessibility of vaccines – and that number is increasing day by day.
No, we will never have the luxury of using âpost-pandemicâ in our collective lexicons. At some level, in one way or another – granular or otherwise – the individual corners of the world we occupy have changed. Look different, feel different. Are different.
When we recognize the fact that we are, indeed, in an era largely defined by Covid-19 vaccines, we do not put aside the pandemic itself.
And to admit so casually that these realities no longer affect our lives should be seen as a dangerous line of thinking. The same could be said of forgetting the lessons we should continue to follow in a post-vaccine world.
(After all, it was this unbridled ignorance and self-indulgent optimism that, on one level, got us here in the first place. We have known for decades that the more we encroach on Mother Nature’s bounty, the more increasingly serious diseases appear Therefore. Former President Trump embodied the idea that all was well when it clearly wasn’t – even concerning his own health. Bill Gates noted that the western world is not nearly ready for a pandemic back in 2014. We had all the evidence of 1918 Spanish flu epidemic understand that this pandemic would come in waves and that we should prepare for these outbreaks. Instead, we wavered plans to reopen and chose to put consumerism above human lives.)
Language is important; this is how we understand the cumbersome world around us. Words are like gooey syrup – they stick to whatever they come in contact with, whether online or offline.
When we recognize the fact that we are, indeed, in an era largely defined by Covid-19 vaccines, we do not put aside the pandemic itself. We more or less accept the events that have happened over the past few months and understand that things are improving nonetheless. (It’s also a clear stance against conspiracy theorists and in favor of solid science.)
Our lives as we knew them are gone; there was no way they would come back. People lost – and the aches, tears, aches; the cries of those who mourn the death of a mother, a father, a child will never be forgotten.
The money will come back, and so will our capricious feeling with it. Offices, businesses, amusement parks and gigantic stadiums are already filling up with hot bodies. Our relationship with mental health and Mother Nature has changed dramatically since the start of the pandemicâ¦ for the better, I would say. But, alas, there is no going back to a pre-pandemic world that we all now have synonymous with with some sense of Valhalla – whatever. the hell of this past.
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When I return to New York City later this summer, seeing my family for the first time in almost two years, the memories I create will not exist in a timeline of “post-pandemic” markers. Instead, these episodes encoded in my gray matter will carry the labels of âpost-vaccineâ memories.