Normalized Abnormality


It’s been almost 19 months now, and the craziest thing, I think, is that none of this even seems crazy anymore.

My kids and I all get in the car with masks looped around our wrists like scrunchies.

My older one picked out a mask to match her homecoming dress, just as naturally as she would select a pair of shoes to go with her outfit.

My younger one automatically stays six feet away from anyone she meets.

I attended a Zoom baby shower for a friend this week, and it seemed totally normal to wave at other attendees and coo over presents while sitting on the sofa in pajama pants.

We all know how to mute ourselves on video calls, even the 9-year-old, and yes, even she has learned how to frame your background so no one sees anything in a Zoom square that you don’t want them to see. (If only it was actually that easy to get a clutter-free home.)

Everyone in our family knows how to self-administer a COVID-19 swab because we all test weekly.

Most of the time, I don’t even notice it that much, the many ways in which our day-to-day lives have changed.

I don’t even mind all of it. I actually kind of like virtual parent-teacher conferences because I don’t have to leave my house to attend. And masks, while sort of annoying to keep track of in the laundry, appeal to my germaphobic nature.

But every so often, something will jar me a bit. Last week, it was seeing cheerleaders at a high school football game rah-rah-rah-ing their sweet teenage hearts out … with masks on. Or reading about the Krewe of BOO! rolling later this month, which – although it’s admittedly not my favorite parade – seems like such a hopeful sign … but also makes me sad for everything we’ve lost over the past many months.

I know this is the “new normal,” even though I’m so tired of hearing and saying and reading and writing that phrase. Masks and vaccines and testing seem like a small enough price to pay to have things like school and sporting events and dinners out.

Still, sometimes, every so often, I get a twinge of nostalgia for the old days, days of maskless grocery trips, jostling crowds, even the overly frosted petit-fours I only ever eat at baby/bridal showers and don’t even like except when I realize you don’t get snacks at virtual events.

Those situations will be back one day, and I’m sure when they return, I will have mixed feelings about trading the luxury of pajamas for the tooth-aching sweetness of petit-fours.

But for now, this is normal. Even though it’s not.





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