Around a year ago, I wrote and then quickly deleted a post entitled, “Our Great Reopening.” The gist was that I wished we’d spent a little more time in the pandemic. States were beginning to reopen at the time, and I feared a lot of the rest of the world was gonna draft inexorably in America’s economic wake and force a summer.
Why did I wish we’d spent more time in lockdown? I’d found the change we experienced at the start of pandemic heartening. When there wasn’t clear guidance early on, we were all forced to react biologically, emotionally, socially—but not societally. We were kind of operating without guard rails for few days, and apart from the hoarding, I dunno, I kind of liked what I saw.
I noticed this on a first weekday walk out into the park near my apartment which, at 1PM on Tuesday, was absolutely teeming with people. I’m not being judgmental, here. It wasn’t a dropletfest or anything like that, and anyways, at this point in time the West hadn’t really even breached “mask” discourse yet, much less “anti-masker” discourse. When I say “teeming”, I want you to take in the full nature documentary sense of the word, like marvelling at a coral reef. The absolute wonder that is watching life do what it does best: live.
In this park, folks were playing music, running with their dogs, cooking out with families, chatting. Critically, they were doing it on a freaking Tuesday afternoon. Until then, I hadn’t really thought about how that park, available to all of us, was really only open for use on weekends and times outside of our commute. Seeing this I realized hey, if you give people freedom from work, they’re not just going to “sit around collecting a check”, they’ll start making their own drive and doing all these cool things they’re meant to do!
It was a deeply experienced look through the veil of my own assumptions. I was curious to see more, and to see it in myself. I knew there was no way we were going to hold onto that energy by reopening in May.
It’s better that I took the post down anyways—as we all know, we didn’t reopen. It was far from over, and in some senses, still is. Last year will reverberate for decades, and the trauma of the last 15mos will have left a heavy thumbprint on everything going forwards. But hey, we got that time after all.
This morning felt like the next best time to write that post. Something’s changed and I feel differently. Funny how months lead into moments.
What are you taking away from all this?