Many writers are talking about the new normal as if it was about to fling its door open and welcome everyone in; more suspect is the notion that everyone is clamoring to get in.
I struggle between living in the abnormal and in the return to the new normal, and whatever will follow that.
A year ago this month, my husband and I stopped attending group exercise classes at our local Y. Optimists always speak of losing one thing only to gain another. They’re right. We lost our exercise class for a year and gained ten pounds.
Now the Y is offering a limited number of classes, and I returned to try one out. I had such a good time, I became more optimistic about the new normal.
This time last year, grocery stores began to advertise special senior hours. With so many seniors getting vaccinated, stores should consider special hours for younger shoppers. Acquaintances my age and older have had at least one shot and are more comfortable going out, though none are rushing to Florida for spring break.
Masks are part of our daily attire, as are–in my case–jean legs with fraying hems and holes in the knees. And that’s for dress-up. Jewelry is out. It’s not that visible on Zoom. With everyone growing their hair longer, earrings are also hidden from view. And who needs lipstick with masks? If and when the new normal arrives, I can’t picture myself shopping for clothes or wanting to dress up. A year spent at home has cemented my position as a slob.
A friend who heard a recent talk from a local publisher learned that dark stories and gore are on their way out, because of the pandemic, and perhaps because real-life dark stories are causing depression in a large percentage of the population. “More than 4 in 10 U.S. adults had developed symptoms of depression or anxiety by the end of 2020, a sharp increase over the results of a comparable survey conducted in the first half of 2019.” I have sought out lighter stories on network TV, Netflix and PBS. The latter is reviving twenty-year old police procedurals that didn’t bother me the first time I saw them, but are too dark to watch now.
On the other hand, I have been immersing myself in mystery novels. These tend to be fast reads that allow me to escape from the isolation of the pandemic and join mobile characters who live all over the world and are able to solve the most challenging problems over the course of 300 pages.
Since we’ve been vaccinated, a new world is opening up, but I’m not rushing into it. We’ve ventured into one movie theatre and are planning to visit several museums. For all these we have to book a time and keep our distance.
Though our washing machine is headed toward the appliance graveyard, we haven’t made a single move to replace it. It’s not so much fear of the virus as lethargy. Engaging in the new normal often seems like too much trouble.