The other evening the four of us were at the dinner table and it was Lunar New Year and we got to discussing Asia, and then specifically, China, and Jackson said to Drew, “You and Mom went to China once, right?” And Drew said, “Yeah…” and then took a second to calculate how long ago our trip had been and then at the same time, and in the same tone of disbelief, he and I both said, “Fourteen years ago, oh my god!” How did fourteen years just fly by, and is anyone else experiencing a similar sensation remembering or thinking about things from your past and realizing just how long ago those things happened? I know this is just a part of getting older – my grandmother, who lived to 89, used to always say that the older you get the faster the years go by – but I also think that the pandemic is playing a trick on our minds and our perception of time. For example…
IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS.
You guys, it’s been two years since the first reported cases in the US. We’re one month shy of the two-year anniversary of the WHO declaring a pandemic, of our schools closing, of sourdough’s brief moment in the sun. And there is so much to say about what the past two years have been like and what changes are here to stay and what kind of long-term impact all of this will have on us as individuals and as a society, but what I haven’t seen discussed as much is: HOW THE FUCK HAS IT BEEN TWO YEARS?! I’m sorry, please forgive the language, but seriously, what the fuck.
Anyone else feeling like they’re in some weird time warp? Like, if you have kids and you think about how they were maybe 4 and 8 when this shit began and now they’re 6 and 10 and they LOOK really different and they act really different, but somehow it just doesn’t compute how they’ve really grown two years already. How has it been two years? Especially if you have kids who’ve had a growth spurt or started puberty during this period, it’s like, how is this happening? And I don’t mean that in the way a mother would say that in normal times, but seriously, like: how is nature just continuing on, how are we all continuing to age, when life has been so seriously disrupted for two years?
If you don’t have kids, maybe you experience this when you see your aging parents after many months apart, or when you see your reflection on the endless Zoom meetings you’re forced to sit in on, or in the mirror at the salon, which maybe you’ve visited only strategically since this all began. You see your reflection and you look different. And it’s not even just that you look older; you look different, changed. The light in your eyes is different. Is it just me?
It’s so hard to have clear perspective about something when you’re in the thick of it. I think it’s why advice columns and advice forums are so popular. People want to hear – they need to hear – perspectives on their situation from people who aren’t in it, who can give them the clarity they lack from inside the fog. Two years is a long time to be inside a fog with no one outside of it shining a light towards a pathway out.
We’re going to move out of the fog though. There will be a time when this particular period of our collective experience will be history. Maybe we’ll be at a dinner table with old friends—or with our grown kids who’ve come to visit for a long weekend. We’ll say, “Can you believe that was 20 years ago?” And we’ll all agree it doesn’t feel like it could possibly be 20 years already. Some of us will still find masks in the pockets of old winter coats when we’re cleaning out the closet. It won’t feel like it could possibly be 20 years, but there it is: our reflection in the mirror, our friends’ faces, our kids all grown up with babies of their own, confirming the passage of time.
And to each other we will confirm it all really happened, too. And if we’re lucky, really lucky, we’ll hold fog lights to our past and see with clarity what we couldn’t before. We’ll make sense of what we couldn’t before.