It’s been 180 (or so) days since school shut down and life came to a grinding halt. Not that I’m counting. But I did double check and from March 13 to September 8, that does mark 180 days of … whatever this is.
People bandy about the word “quarantine” to describe this time, and yet this whole situation is more like waking up in an alternate universe. Sure, it looks like Earth and smells like Earth, but somehow we jumped the tracks and ended up on a strange timeline of events where Earth just feels… off.
For example, we had summer this year. It was hot, there were lightening bugs and mosquitos and cicadas. But when we went to our public splash pad (which, new for Covid, required a reservation and a small payment), my girls stood by the fence and stared at the strangely empty public pool. They almost couldn’t take their eyes off of the baffling scene in front of them.
The girls had a first day of school, which at first seemed normal with pictures in front of our house and donuts with the neighbors, but at 8 a.m. the kids all returned to their homes, went upstairs and logged onto their Zoom calls. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief once all of the kids were in class, I held my breath and prayed the new internet service would work better than the one we had last year.
“Is it over yet?”
I was putting away laundry in Annie’s room, and I caught a few snippets of the kids’ conversations with their teacher. I was surprised, but yet not surprised, by how frequently the kids asked the teacher when class would be over. It did not matter that they were in the middle of a lesson, reading to each other or sharing how the weekend went – it’s almost compulsive – they wanted to know if the Zoom was almost over. And their teacher was completely patient. “No, not yet dear, two minutes,” she said without missing a beat and jumping back into the topic.
But I wonder along with the kids – is this strange season almost over? This season of things feeling oddly familiar but not quite right… how long will this go on? Or will this somehow feel normal?
The Langoliers are surprisingly prescient.
The other day Frank was driving behind a car taking a long time to complete a simple turn, and naturally, I referenced the Steven King mini-series, The Langoliers. “Gosh, if he doesn’t hurry up, the Langoliers are going to get him!”
If you haven’t seen the movie it’s about a group of people that find themselves in the past. The past, it turns out, exists only briefly after we’ve lived through it and then these terrible monsters called langoliers eat up the past. I’m guessing Steven King’s writer’s prompt for that one was something like “they say you can’t live in the past, but why?” Because langoliers, that’s why!
In the story, the past looks just like the present, except that the food is going stale, electronics slowly stop working and there is a foreboding sense that the whole situation could get worse. So basically, the past in this story is 2020 today. In which case, I am going to stop answering the doorbell in case it is, in fact, the langoliers. I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense.
But if not the langoliers… then who?
Or is it whom? Anyway, we are more than halfway done with the year. I’ve learned not to ask “what else can happen” because, well, I don’t really want to know.