Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.
Day One Thousand Ninety Five
Three years since the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn arrived upon these shores. When I think back on that time I can recall walking past a shuttered bar advertising a St. Patrick’s Day party that never arrived. It is a BBQ place now, the bar never reopening through all the turmoil of openings and closings, limited seating, and outdoor only. Certainly not all of us made it through the last three years. None of us made it through whole. We are not who we once were, but that is always the case.
I have noticed lately people referring to pre-pandemic times and post-Grippe (for that is what everyone has come to feel the last six to eight months has been), but never to the plague months themselves. That was a time outside of time, when we stood apart from ourselves. I went back and read the first few weeks of entries to these notes, when I was writing each day, and the disorientation I was feeling is obvious. I hardly knew what to say, how to put into words what was happening. Even now the feeling of both how tenuous and unsettled those days felt – when truly we did not know what might come next – and how numbingly same each day was is hard to explain. I lived it and yet it doesn’t feel a part of my life. It is separate, off on its own, not sewn into the fabric of my existence.
There were people who lost the thread of themselves during these longest of three years. For some those terrifying and numbing days became an identity. They found solace in remaining ever vigilant for the next shoe to drop, for the Dread Lord to take upon his next guise. It is the only way they could feel safe from that fear we all felt. Others spent years proclaiming the Grippe Reborn a hoax, a plot, nothing but a cold. They rejected the inoculations, denied even having been touched by the Dread Lord and proclaimed malaria drugs and worm paste and other things miracle cures. Though they loudly declared that everyone else was living in fear, they were the most frightened people I have ever encountered and they are living in fear still.
Life, after all, is capricious and our fates are not our own to command. That is the hard truth we were all forced to see during the Grippe Reborn’s terrible reign. Some of us did not want to.
I never lost hope during those discomfiting months, though my patience was sorely tested. My expectation was always that the days of the Grippe Reborn would be finite, an interregnum. As life began its slow return to normal I felt a kind of bitterness at the time lost when we were unable to do so many of the things that brought us pleasure. That was combined with an urge to not waste any of the days remaining, for I understand now, as I only thought I did before, that there are no guarantees.
For a long time in my youth I was very focused on the future that I was working toward, when my life would be whatever I imagined it would be. That changed as I grew older and I realized that the future is always waiting but our lives exist in the now. So many of our dreams will never be realized, so better to find pleasure in what we already possess. Yet in the abysmal now of the Grippe Reborn, when the present seemed a morass from which we might never escape, I found myself again lost in the future of what I would do when all this ended. It was like a promise to myself that it would. Some of my most distinct memories of those early months are of walking with my love and talking of our futures. Did we want to live here or move? Did we want to change careers? What did we want to do? We were driven by restlessness, but also by our fundamental need to believe there are still good things to come. That our lives would not just be marked by the Dread Lord Grippe Reborn.