Embracing the New Normal

It doesn’t feel quite right to be posting about things being “pretty” and “heavenly” when things are so off without acknowledging the changes. People have lost their lives; people have lost their livelihoods.

At the beginning, there were memes comparing this to a war and I remember thinking that was very dramatic. It’s a virus, I thought, not a war. I had no idea how quickly it would force economies to shut down, each city calling it something unique: New York is “Paused” and my friends in other states are under orders called, “Safer at Home,” (Wisconsin), “Stay-At-Home” (Minnesota), “Shelter in Place” (Ohio), and “Stay Safe, Stay Home” (Michigan). Who knew a side effect of COVID-19 was creativity?!

At first, I’ll admit, I thought quarantine was nice. No more commuting. More sleep. Everything was canceled, no weeknight plans. I can be my actualized self, I thought. I can finally spend time doing the things I want to do and becoming the person I want to be. What was stopping me before, I now wonder.

Then things got progressively less nice. No more yoga, no more seeing friends, my work trip in March was canceled, my hiking trip in April was canceled, and the quarantine didn’t seem to be ending. None of this mattered, it was just happening. People started veering away from one another on the street. People started wearing masks. Family started sending masks. Amazon ran out of supplies. People started canceling their weddings. We started hearing the term “recession,” and shortly, “depression.” The impact of COVID-19 was widespread and everyone was affected.

Now we’re ten weeks into working from home and our “new normal.” Much like in the old normal, there are good days and bad days. We’ve managed to flatten the curve and the number of new cases is back to where we started. But, what happens next? It will be a long time before we feel comfortable doing things we used to do (I miss restaurants! I miss my city!), but it’s time to embrace our new normal. Sharing a few notes on what life is like now, if you’d like to read them…

The new normal means we won’t be commuting to Manhattan for a very long time. Like most offices in New York, my office has an open floor plan and they squeezed six of us at a table meant for four. My kitchen table is actually bigger, but I miss human connection. And happy hours.

The new normal means we can’t travel, which is fine, but when will I get to see my family in Chicago? I wonder whether I’ll see them again this year and I’m glad I went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In the new normal, I set my alarm early so I can go for a walk around Prospect Park. Walking makes me feel like I’ve done something that day, with both my body and my mind. I usually talk to my mom, which is also nice.

In the new normal, I get home from my walk, shower, set up my desk (which as become a second monitor, an ergonomic chair cushion, and white noise to down out the sounds of the city) and make a hot cup of coffee. Caffeine is the best, isn’t it? I write down three things I am grateful for in the gratitude journal I got for Christmas. Santa is a big believer in gratitude, as am I.

In the new normal, I listen to our governor (Did I even know his name before this? I don’t recall.) every single day. I find his emphasis on “the facts” and overall demeanor very calming.

In the new normal, we socialize virtually. It’s actually been really nice since most of my friends live in different states. I’m now part of two “book clubs” with friends from college. In one of them, we read books and talk about them. In the other, we do not read any books. In both of them, we talk about our lives and we laugh and it’s so nice. Quarantine also brought our group text to Zoom (why didn’t we think of this before?) and has me reuniting with old friends. This part of the new normal is kind of great.

In the new normal, I have perfected the crusty rustic artisan roll and have a sourdough starter on the counter. I make sandwiches with homemade bread. I have (and actually use) my Grandpa’s recipe. My mom’s cousin, whom I have never met, sent me her 40-year-old sourdough starter! She also sent me her sourdough cinnamon roll recipe, which was delicious.

In the new normal, we make these sugar cookies on repeat.

In the new normal, we order so much wine.

In the new normal, I do yoga in my living room on the ClassPass app. It has really great yoga / pilates / barre classes and I love them a lot!

In the new normal, we know what we’re going to eat in advance. We meal plan and grocery shop on Sundays. James goes to the store wearing a mask and gloves. He comes home and sprays disinfectant on the reusable bags. Our pantry and freezer are full, and we even cleared a shelf to make room for snacks. Priorities! 

In the new normal, we send out our laundry rather than doing it in the shared washing machines downstairs. We send it out every three weeks or so. Lots of pajamas. (We use ConVay Pro and they are wonderful!)

In the new normal, our apartment has never been cleaner. This weekend, I want to deep clean the outside of the kitchen cabinets (Pinterest says it’s possible) and get storage containers for all of the flour I keep on hand now. Exciting times!

In the new normal, now that it’s getting nice out, we’ll spend sunny days at the park. All sunny days, all day. Maybe one day soon we’ll meet friends at a distance.

In the new normal, I am extra grateful for my health, my family and friends’ health, my home, my job, my boyfriend/roommate/co-worker and for the opportunity to live in the best city in the world…even when it’s hard.

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