Are we “Back to Normal”?

I can no longer count how many times that people I know, in my small circle of people I know, have bemoaned wanting to return to normal after the effects of the pandemic and all of its rules and regulations.

I admit, I survived being in lockdown pretty easily. Changes in my life were minimal. Yes, I went a long time without a haircut and a manicure/pedicure. Yes, I had to forego my one monthly ‘girls’ lunch out’ with my bestie. Yes, going to the grocery store was a shortened trip with a list and lacking the joy of shopping every aisle, perusing every product that caught my eye. And yes, I didn’t get to make my 3 to 4 annual day trips to Lancaster County. And, of course, a mask was required inside the store and the doctor’s office when I had an appointment.

My life is built, by choice, of being a ‘homebody’. I have some outside living space when I need a bit of fresh air. Taking out the trash requires a small walk to the alley and back. But because I don’t frequent bars and/or restaurants, don’t enjoy shopping (except for the grocery store and an occasional thrift store), have an Amazon Prime account for shopping as well as for movies and books for my Kindle, I didn’t really do without much. I usually only get to visit my brother 2 or 3 times a year, so while that didn’t happen for a long while, it also wasn’t something that is part of my normal routine. Hot and humid summers make me tend to stay indoors, as do snowy winters.

Meanwhile, I heard/saw in print my share of bemoaning of others who felt the claustrophobia of not being able to go and do freely. And I do understand that. But my internal hopes were that this forced lockdown might mean families with parents and children-at-home reconnecting with each other without all of the outside distractions and activities that usually meant them not having any real family time.

I thought, more than once, that schools being closed and children attending school via the Internet was a bit of a time-management crunch for parents, but also hoped that it would give those parents a greater appreciation of what teachers do in the many hours that they have those kids at school. Not only should that have been a lesson in what it takes to educate today’s children and youth, but also how each of their children behave in a learning session. Most often, I thought about the fact that, learning from home meant that those children were safe and free from bullying by classmates, more so of school shootings which seem to happen far too often.

I just finished reading an article in the New York Times that read, in part, “The deadly gunfire in Oxford, Mich., on Tuesday added one more episode to a growing list of fatal shootings on school property in the United States this year, following a lull in shootings earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

“According to the news outlet Education Week, there have been 28 school shootings resulting in injury or death so far in 2021, with 20 of them reported since Aug 1. The publication says that at least nine people have been killed by gunfire on school property this year, including two people who were shot by police officers.”

Now I’m learning of various news briefs about shootings happening in malls and other stores. I know that this time of year always seems to make this kind of thing more – regular, for lack of a better word – but it sure wasn’t happening when only necessary stores were open during the lockdown!

I was always a bit trepid of the words “back to normal” as a result of the regulations of the pandemic. I’ve been around the sun enough years to know that ‘normal’ isn’t so much better, but is mixed with joy and pain, just as our lives were during lockdown. It’s really tough on my emotional empathy to keep seeing new and more stories about more aggression and violence returning and taking back its place in a world where we were much safer in lockdown.

I’m not saying that lockdown is the answer. But it makes me so sad that the need to go “back to normal” which many pushed for reintroduces a lot of negative actions that I guess I naively hoped we’d all grow away from during the lockdown.

I never wanted to go “back to normal”. When asked, I would always say something to the effect that I’d like us to discover a “new normal”. I guess that’s the Anne Frank in me showing…

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