The new normal

By Caitlin Kelly

Constant change.

It’s exhausting.

Making plans — breaking them.

Planning a vacation — cancelling it.

Thought we were safe? No, not for a long long time.

Powerful essay on Medium about this:

What if the pandemic just never ends? What if the New Normal is not some accommodated version of the old normal, but instead is just…this? What if what we are experiencing now — this constant state of anxiety and change and daily back-and-forth and in-and-out of masks and lock-downs — is what the 21st century will be? What if the economic recovery is DOA or if it somehow only makes things worse? What if this is just the beginning of much larger and more frequent health, climate, political, and economic disasters?

Jose and I were so looking forward to attending a wedding in Memphis, Tennessee in early September. It would have been our first flight in two years and our first visit out of state. We were so excited! The women getting married, a couple we met on Twitter, demanded proof of vaccination, which we were fine with.

Then, proof of negative tests. We cancelled.

I have no objection to their request.

But the pleasure was quickly leaching out of what was to have been a relaxing break. That state now has hospitals so full there’s no room left.

We had planned a month’s driving trip out to Colorado and back in October. Cancelled.

We had already planned and cancelled Hawaii or Paris.

I’m hitting bottom right now.

I admit it — I’ve been spoiled since childhood by travel being a normal and expected source of pleasure, one easily accessible. Not in luxury, necessarily, but always owning a valid passport and a reliable vehicle and having an insatiable hunger to see more of the world.\

One of our Montreal favorites

I’ve already been to 41 countries — and there are so so many places I still want to see!

Morocco, Japan, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, the Baltic nations, to name only a few…

And we miss our friends in Ontario and Nova Scotia and Paris and London and Scotland…

I chose to move to the U.S. and, since Biden’s election, my pulse rate has dropped from the daily anxiety of being “governed” by a madman for four years.

But the endless divisions here, and endless fawning media coverage of people who refuse vaccinations — endangering all of us — are tedious as hell. Thanks to them, going basically anywhere is dangerous.

And — most concerning — even the vaccinated can carry a lot of this virus, unknowingly infecting others while showing no symptoms.

Like all of you, we work hard.

Like all of you, we need things to look forward to!

And, as I write this on our balcony, planes soar over our heads, as we’re on a flight path from the local airport.


These days, all we can anticipate is constant change — and disappointment.

A bit more of the essay:

the pandemic has put life into perspective. It has made crystal clear that love and health are what’s important in this life. The rest is what it is. We must be grateful for what we have, find joy wherever we can, and be incredibly patient with, well…everything else. In cultures that have survived war, that made it through bombings and mass killings and attacks, people turn to all that does not change for comfort and hope. As their day-to-day reality changes around them, they find solace in anything that is constant and unifying: their food, their language, their songs, their fairytales, their games, their age-old traditions.

Right now, I have to take solace in what we have and can enjoy that COVID can’t destroy:

our Hudson river view

a town we love living in

a new (woman!) governor who’s a badass

deep and abiding friendships


freelance work

Manhattan, literally, on our horizon, there when we need a break from snoozy suburban life

a home we’ve made beautiful through design, renovation, art

a good hospital 15 minutes north of us

we are both vaccinated and will take boosters when and if they are offered

lovely places to walk and bike outdoors safely

books and music and card games and puzzles to amuse us

How are you holding up these days?

20 thoughts on “The new normal

  1. In cultures that have survived war, that made it through bombings and mass killings and attacks, people turn to all that does not change for comfort and hope. As their day-to-day reality changes around them, they find solace in anything that is constant and unifying: their food, their language, their songs, their fairytales, their games, their age-old traditions. – this is everything and puts it all in perspective. that being said, it is very challenging to open the door to life again and then being disappointed again. as i type this, i am on day 4 of a power outage due to storm damage, sitting at a coffee shop writing and having a morning brew. the weather has been perfect and the community has come together to support each other in a way that reminds me about the goodness of people, to be grateful and to let some things go.

  2. I’ve had my fair deal of stress, though most of it isn’t due to the pandemic. Still, that is on my mind. I’m taking a vacation and hoping to travel in two months. If things get worse, there’s a good chance my vacation, and a bunch of other stuff, will be canceled.
    But with so many people refusing to vaccinate and the virus still mutating and spreading like mad, this may be the new normal for months, or perhaps years, to come.

      1. No, yes and yes. I would be very wary of heading to NOLA right now (check infection rates and vaccination rates). Las Vegas I went 3 times for work, never for a vacation.

  3. I was having a pity party recently until I heard what was happening in Afghanistan and how Haiti had once again been hit with an earthquake. After hearing that I realized I don’t have any problems worth mentioning.

  4. It is worrying that double-vaccinated people can carry the virus and spread it. I am cautious as I have vulnerable family members, but I have been meeting a few friends and having meals with them. I have a lot going on in my life with work and grad school, so I’m trying to make more space for socialising as well as professional development. “All work and no play…” as they say!

  5. I should be in Porto, Portugal right now, but I cancelled. I kind of regret it, I think I should’ve gone anyway. I’ve been vaccinated twice, I mask up and am very careful about touching and cleaning. Oh well, I’m not going to complain. Up to Lille in a few days then back to Paris with the kids. I’m just grateful for all that we have compared to those less fortunate than us.

  6. We had two weeks touring the Carolinas planned for November but we had to cut it way back. The two nice hotels in Charleston and Wilmington we had to cancel, but the Nag’s Head beach house is still on because the whole town is practically deserted at that time of year.
    I spend a LOT of time in the house, even though I am vaccinated. I’m very fortunate to have friends to have coffee with a couple times a week and my aversion to confrontation, which was an issue even before people started getting pissy, actually makes things seem pretty close to normal.
    Haiti breaks my heart. Those poor people can’t catch a break for anything. Afghanistan pisses me off more than anything. Twenty four hundred dead American Soldiers, Marines and Airmen and another twenty thousand wounded laid their lives, limbs and minds upon the altar of freedom, not their freedom, raising up an army of cowards with no stomach for the fight. Pearls before swine.
    Well, I feel much better now. It sure is raining, though.

  7. It just galls me that there are so many people unwilling to get vaccinated. I foolishly believed the pandemic would really be over once the vaccines came out. I never thought for a second there’d be so many people refusing it. It blows my mind.

  8. Kris Lindquist

    Thank you – you articulated my sentiments better than I can. The swirl of gratitude that I, and mine, are okay is mixed with frustration, sadness and anger. This a challenging daily brew.

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