About 10 days into my voluntary “quarantine”, a magazine arrived in my mailbox. I take only a few print magazines… I like “Real Simple” for its recipes and it’s crisp, colorful layout. Often I feel like the lifestyle it portrays isn’t “mine”, too stark… But what I pondered this month is that this “April” issue clearly comes from “before”. Full of cheerful, friendly articles about spring cleaning and freezer organization.
You know, before “all this”. Before the pandemic and shutdown. Before “social distancing” and “shelter in place”. How will we refer to “before”?
- The Age of Innocence?
- Back then?
- The old normal?
- The bad or good old days?
Some writers refer to our current status as “The Pause”. They hope something good will come out of it.
I remember, in 2001, the arrival of my first piece of mail that reflected the post 9/11 reality, the “Nation” magazine cover showing a very simple, stylized graphic of the two burning towers. I felt a dark sense of finality. I’m never going to get away from this…
News cycles spin faster now, and are far more internet dependent. There wasn’t one image to jar me into a new reality, although the cascade of events late on March 11 came close – NBA season suspended, Presidential travel ban, press conference… March 11 was my personal turning point. I wrote in my personal journal “This is an emergency.”
The next time “Real Simple” arrives in my mailbox, it will be different. (In fact, it will never be the same. The website has already morphed.) All of us are “coping”, dealing with changes we never expected. The dangers of an epidemic have caused anxiety to skyrocket, and maybe depression, too. There are plenty of sages who remind us to look for the advantages in our situation. Sometimes I can find them… sometimes not.