That’s where I was last week. I caught the first cold I’ve had since before Covid lockdown. It was a strange and initially disconcerting experience. One moment I was totally fine, feeling normal, folding laundry. The next moment I was struck by a great wave of snot. And it pretty much went downhill from there. Body aches, massive headache, exhaustion, sore throat. All plans cancelled in favor of sleep and not infecting others. The only good thing was it wasn't Covid.
After the rapid test confirmed I did not have Covid, my next thought was “but, how?!” With all the masking and hand-washing and staying away from people, how on earth did I catch a cold? My partner and I sleuthed it out through discussion and determined I must have picked it up at a Halloween party we attended. I wore a mask the whole time, lifting it only for the moments when I shoved food or drink in my mouth before lowering it again for the chewing and swallowing. So I must have touched something.
This particular event was a delightful murder mystery party, with clues hidden in and around many objects. Objects that absolutely everyone touched as we worked together to solve riddles, piece together the story, and find the solution. Objects which I touched right before putting food in my face. I washed my hands several times throughout the party, but not absolutely every time I touched something someone else touched. I have become so obsessed over the last couple years with not breathing other people's air, I quite forgot about surface-spreading ailments.
So I spent a week feeling crappy and accomplished little more than napping and Netflix. I was out sick. From work and from life. And between all the nose-blowing, neti-potting, and tea drinking, it dawned on me that a lot of people have been “out sick” for much of the pandemic. Even though we haven't been taking sick days or calling out of work. My week of malaise induced uselessness felt eerily familiar. I couldn't focus, I was cranky and fussy, and I was constantly tired no matter how much I slept.
Just like several points during this pandemic.
So I drank tea, ate soup, downed vitamins, took naps, and blew my nose frequently. I was extra nice to my body while I waited out the symptoms. Put my life and work on hold until I returned to feeling energetic and normal again. Once the fog of sickness cleared from my mind, I realized I’ve been similarly waiting for the end of Covid. Waiting for the time when we had a handle on the thing and could declare victory over the virus.
But we’re not actually trying to end the virus anymore.
I realized just this week that at some point we switched to another course. And it must have happened while I wasn't paying attention because I didn't get the memo until just now. Apparently we’re now resigned to living with Covid forever. Something I certainly did not sign up for. But I guess I also didn’t sign up for global climate collapse or the continuation of white supremacy, yet here we are.
The strange thing about this realization is I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I’ve been reserving myself, hiding away from a lot of things I really love, banking on the promise of a future that doesn’t include Covid. Putting things off and waiting to plan for a more certain time. But there is no guarantee of any such thing. And now it looks like it will never come. Unlike my cold, which resolved itself in 7 or 8 days, there's no foreseeable end to Covid. It's here to stay. And I don't like it.
I can't be out sick from the rest of my life, so I guess I've got to figure out how to be in this new Covid covered world. And I'm not excited about it. Much like living under the inescapable clouds of capitalism and the patriarchy, it's a major drag to live in a world where Covid is so prevalent. And I resent that the same people who refuse to get on-board with policies promoting greater equity in this country are also the same people who refused to get on-board with masking and lockdowns.
I also resent the health officials who worried in the beginning of the pandemic that if they told everyone to wear masks we would take that as license to don a mask and behave recklessly. Risk compensation, like many other false narratives upon which major societal systems are built, is one reason we couldn't control covid. Exacerbated by the politicization of masks, distancing, and other covid-prevention protocols. Maybe Covid would have become endemic anyway, but maybe not. And now we'll never know. So I mourn the loss of that possibility.
I like to bring each week's essay to close on a hopeful note. To offer a reminder that all is not yet lost, humans are amazing, and we can achieve anything as long as we can imagine it. This week I'm struggling to get to a hopeful place because I'm also feeling resentful toward all the older folks who are still in-charge right now and who will not have to live-out the consequences of their inaction on the pressing issues of our time. How can they keep leaving us in this mess? Surely if we can shift time an hour, we can do just about anything.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.