I figure people who will read this will have similar thoughts, though many of the details will be different, depending on what COVID has meant to your life. I feel very fortunate that none of my family has been lost, and really no one was sick with COVID. Many people I know, many people you know, have not been nearly so fortunate.
The first thing that comes to mind from last March is the day I went to the office and was greeted by a co-worker that I had only met on conference calls. He recognized me since we now sat near each other, and I went to shake his hand as I said hello. He stopped me, and we did the elbow thing that had just been suggested by health officials instead. This virus that we'd heard about in December still didn't seem real. I can't recall the exact day this was, but it was somewhere near today's date on the calendar.
Soon thereafter, my company had a day, I think maybe a Tuesday, where we did a test run of readiness to possibly work from home if we needed to. I still didn't think too much of it (I am essentially an optimist and worry about global stuff only when it directly affects me; I have enough to deal with in my personal life) and we were back in the office the next day. Luckily, I already had an extra monitor at home for the occasional remote day, because the very next day, I got a text not long before I left on my commute that said, "we are working from home until further notice."
I think that is when it really started to hit me. That and how things started to shut down in rapid fashion. I don't follow basketball, but the NBA stopped. And hockey teams were told to not practise, and then games that I would have watched were postponed until who knows when. And baseball spring training, I remember the reporters I follow on Twitter talking about new restrictions on access to the players, and then those spring training games were cancelled, too.
In my personal life, this was just after I had finally decided to send my letter to my parents, explaining how I am trans and the whole history of it, to hopefully gain acceptance. As I think I wrote in this space, the printed letter never reached my parents. Which lead to months of wondering if it would, then hilarity as I attempted to get them to receive it via email (they aren't that technologically savvy) and finally confirmation in AUGUST that it had been received and read. It's the mystery of my year what happened to that letter I mailed literally a day or two before the world stopped.
A lot of the rest is just wondering if the virus would affect me and my immediate family, or people I knew and my family back home, finding masks, wearing masks, finding foods that were suddenly scarce, missing toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and arriving early in the morning to grocery stores and seeing the shelves were already empty. I remember a sobering trip to Walmart in hopes of scoring anything, really, items we don't normally buy, when we didn't have a clue how long we would be isolated in the house.
I remember, after some days had passed, getting in the car to again look for supplies and being amazed at how few cars were on the roads. It was just an eerie feeling for a time. I remember I had a doctor's appointment and having to wear a mask normally used to mow the grass because it's all I had and those couldn't be found to purchase, either. There was just an overwhelming sense of void. You know how you felt; I'm sure it was very similar.
I remember watching movie after movie as my normal viewing choices weren't available. TV shows ended their seasons early because filming had not been included when Hollywood shut down. Then just hearing with surrealism as places like Broadway and Disney World shuttered. And through it all, I was very fortunate to be safe at home and able to work. As the months passed, a couple of friends had scares about getting COVID but never actually did. Tracking my state's numbers of "cases" to see how it was going until I just stopped doing so.
There has been so much that we have had to deal with, all of us. And the amazing thing is, by and large, we have. There were tremendous issues and numbers of deaths in various areas. People criticized politicians for how they handled things and I definitely thought some of the decision-making was wonky too, but really, none of them had ever faced such a thing. I tried to cut them some slack. Some more than others.
Here in the USA, on top of it all, there was the presidential election. I wondered how that would evolve as traditional campaigning couldn't happen, and with people either on lockdown or just staying home, how many would vote and who would win. And how the results took so long to come in and be ratified. Not to mention the protests that occurred from legitimate concerns such as Black Lives Matter and other societal wrongs. The whole country felt like a powderkeg. Now I feel better about things in that regard, but a large portion of this country is not happy with how things are going. I respect their right to feel that way, whether I agree or not.
And so here we are, a year later. Masks are readily available, and at least where I live, either required or heavily encouraged. And we have vaccines being supplied to the global population. Kids are back in school in many areas. It's rather amazing when you think about it. We are not out of the woods at all, but there seems to be lots of hope to live in a bit less fear as the next few months pass. As always, hope is such a powerful thing.
So many people have had their lives forever altered. Loss of loved ones, jobs, businesses, you name it. We can only hope a new equilibrium is found soon and people can more easily thrive again. And yet, while all that was going on, babies were born, people found love (even if socially distanced) and opportunity. We have learned so much about so much, particularly the resilience of the human race. We bend, but we don't break. That is my belief.
I've experienced the lowest of lows in the past year. I have also experienced some amazing highs. I am a "real person" now if still a work in progress. I have some family and friends that call me Shannyn and have seen me in my favored guise. It has been a hell of a ride on the rollercoaster of life. To everyone out there, I welcome any thoughts you have to share, and I wish you as much positivity as I can muster as I encourage you to continue enduring, be safe, and keep riding.