March 13, 2021

Upon the One-Year Anniversary of the Pandemic Times

"How long do you think this is gonna go on?" my friend asked.

"At least a couple of months," I said, despite the authorities telling us it would only be three weeks. 

"Really? That long, you think?" she said. 

"Oh yeah."

 Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro (taken 4/25/20)

My last day and night of normality in 2020 was a year ago, the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, March 14. After that, everything was canceled and shut down. 

But on that Saturday night, I went out in Hollywood—maskless—and hit a couple of bars, while they were still open. 

A drunk girl collapsed on top of me and leaned into my chest as I stroked her hair and told her, "Don't worry, it'll all be over soon."

I felt an impending apocalypse. 

Because truth be told, it wasn't "normal" anymore—not even then. 

Just over a year ago—on March 11, 2020—the World Health Organization had declared a worldwide pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. We weren't really calling it COVID-19 yet back then. 

Shoppers had already begun hoarding toilet paper and toiletries and Clorox wipes. 

Even that morning, an outdoor walking tour of the Pasadena Civic Center had been canceled for safety concerns. 

In retrospect, maybe we could've done it. But price gouging on surgical masks had already started more than a month before—and although a friend had managed to stock up after hours of online research, I hadn't really bothered with it yet. 

I'd still been scoffing at my rideshare drivers who were already masked up, so early in the game. 

But by March 14 last year, plenty of people were already staying at home—either of their own volition, or because their companies closed their offices, or because government officials were telling everybody it was a good idea. 

I guess the pandemic didn't really seem real to me until I realized St. Patrick's Day was canceled. And I didn't even write a dedicated blog post about the pandemic until a month after my last night out

In some ways, the last year has been a blur. But on the other hand, I probably remember the details of March 2020 more clearly than any other March in my lifetime. 

They say that Los Angeles County will drop down into the "Red Tier" (not to be confused with the "Orange Alert" I wrote about before, since they changed the color-coding since then) and more businesses will reopen, including indoor dining. 

The state government has said that amusement parks will be permitted to reopen (with rides) on April 1. 

The last time they tried to reopen—back in June 2020—it felt like too much, too soon. But I feel better about things this time around. 

Could we possibly have something to look forward to in 2021, and beyond? At some point during this pandemic, I'd resolved myself to the fact that everything was canceled, forever. 

But abject isolation is no way to live. I'm getting ready to see some of my friends again. Hopefully even go back East again. 

I don't think we'll be going back to the Before Times anytime soon. And I'm not sure anything from this point forth will feel like Normal Times. 

I do, however, look forward to the day when the WHO no longer considers COVID-19 a threat of pandemic magnitude—the After Times, I guess. 

For now, however, we're still in Pandemic Times. I feel like I've already made the most of it over the last year. 

And I've stayed remarkably sane (considering my baseline sanity is not always that great). 

And I'm confident I can hold out for a while longer. 

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