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Requisite Commemoration Of An Unwanted Anniversary

March 8th, 2021

It is currently just after 11:00 PM as I write this, but I have back-dated this post to 7:18 PM on March 08, 2021. That is, to the minute, exactly one year since I last hugged my friends — one year since I last physically interacted with anyone outside of my immediate family. What should have been a memorable night because of time my friends is now more memorable because of how long I’ve since had to spend away from them.

We had stepped out of a nearby restaurant after getting dinner and I hugged them our usual goodbye before we walked to our respective vehicles. If I had known then, that it would be our last “normal” hangout, I can’t help but wonder: would I have held their embrace for just that much longer, despite the probable awkwardness? Would I have been willing to stand with them in the parking lot and chat for just another few moments, despite my growing tiredness from the previous night’s bout of insomnia?

One thing that’s stuck with me for this past year is just how incredibly UNFAIR this pandemic seems to be handled: I see so many people in the other parts  of my city still eating out at outdoor restaurants, openly playing team sports at the parks, etc. And most frustrating of all, so many people who refuse to wear a mask properly at grocery stores. (C’mon, really? It’s one piece of fabric, covering your nose and mouth. It shouldn’t take you even 1 minute to get it right and yet, here we are 1 entire year later…it’s a mask, not a damn chin diaper!)

On the better extreme, my parents and I are trying to be incredibly diligent about our health — I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home, and we are all staying self-isolated at home except for going out for work, food, or the occasional medical appointments only as needed, and wearing masks whenever we step out of the house for any reason at all. And yet because of the people who aren’t doing the right thing, we who are will have to be in isolation for that much longer since they will directly be a cause for the pandemic continuing to spread. Because of them, it will be that much longer before I can safely hug my friends again.

But even through all of the terrible things that have happened in this past year, I try to stay positive: an entirely new mRNA-based vaccine technology was developed and finalized more quickly than any in history. And even though they are rarely face-to-face any more, group hangouts with friends have actually become slightly more frequent instead of less, thanks to technologies like Discord and Google Duo, Heck, just a few weeks ago we had Perseverance land on Mars and it took high-def video of itself through the process from 3 different cameras — which, if you haven’t yet watched, please do yourself a favor and go to NASA’s recorded stream right now. We even had microphones on it to record gusts of wind. You read that correctly: We can now clearly listen to the gusts of wind on another planet. How fricking cool is that?! Answer: very.

So, in the end I am hopeful: hopeful that my parents will be able to get their vaccine appointments soon; hopeful that my friends and I will be able to get ours shortly thereafter; and hopeful that we will continue to see these sorts of communication and medical technologies become more mainstream. And while I know that “normal” won’t ever be the norm again, I am hopeful that our lives will return to something resembling normalcy one day soon. 

I yearn to safely hug my friends once more. Those first few embraces will be long and awkward and oh so wonderful.

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