When will we get back to our futures?

Posted

As I wrote this in December, the first COVID-19 vaccine had just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and a second one wasn’t far behind. Although they won’t be ready for wide distribution to the public until spring, front-line workers and first responders are now being vaccinated.  

That was a rare bit of good news as 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic, drew to a close. But the reality is that thousands of Americans continue to die of COVID-19, and that the pandemic will not be over any time soon in 2021, even with the vaccine.

With such a sobering outlook, I’m wondering whether it’ll be 2021, 2022, or even 2023, when:

  • Health experts and governors stop constantly scolding and lecturing us during this seemingly never-ending health emergency that started with our leaders not only frightening us regularly, but also scarring our psyches to the point where we’ve become considerably less social, fairly isolated and afraid of living our lives.
  • These expressions will mercifully disappear from our lexicon: “new normal,” “we’re all in this together” (which has never been the case), “contact tracing,” “social distancing” and “flatten the curve.”
  • I’ll be mask-free on my daily jaunts, in stores and at medical and dental appointments.
  • I can resume doing things I once took for granted, such as shaking hands or high-fiving friends, having a conversation with my neighbors without constantly checking whether we’re 6 feet apart, and holding meetings in person instead of on virtual platforms.
  • It’ll be “Kosher” to have lunch with more than one friend, and we won’t be forced to restrict those infrequent get-togethers that we must hold outdoors – no matter how low the temperature dips.
  • I’ll be able to take my wife on a date without worrying whether a potentially deadly virus is an unwanted guest at the dinner table, the movie theater or concert hall.
  • I can resume volunteering for a local holiday drive, an effort that I declined to participate in this fall due to the risks involved.
  • We’ll see 65,000 fans packed into Gillette Stadium, and be able to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and watch other spectator sports with friends.
  • I can run a road race with a few hundred other runners, and chat with some of them after the race, as I did in the “old days.”
  • I’ll be able to stop worrying about dodging other runners, walkers and bikers while on my daily jogs, or moving to the other side of the road.
  • The Boston Marathon will resume with 30,000 runners from across the globe completing the 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Boston. (The race, usually held in April, has already been postponed in 2021.)
  • “Hybrid” will once again refer mainly to a vehicle that runs on both electricity and gas, and not to students in grades K-12 attending classes in person only a few times a week.
  • We can plan a vacation in New England without being the target of scorn by residents of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut or other states that view tourists as interlopers – and without being ordered to quarantine for two weeks (as if anyone in their right mind would “vacation” in a place that requires them to quarantine).
  • The U.S.-Canadian border will reopen, so my wife and I can visit my close relatives in Ontario.
  • We can all stop worrying about whether we have an insidious disease every time our throats get dry and scratchy, or we sneeze or cough from leaves, pollen or other allergens.
  • I’ll be able to enjoy an in-person Relay For Life, to benefit the American Cancer Society, an event that normally draws hundreds of participants and volunteers, but which went virtual in 2020 and won’t return to anywhere close to “normal” in 2021.

LARRY KESSLER (larrythek65@gmail.com) is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at https://larrytheklineup.blogspot.com.