Those Really were the Days

It is strange when you can think back to only three years ago and struggle to remember with any ease of relation to how life was back then. “Back then.” It is astounding that I am attributing the words “back then” to a life lived only three years ago.

But I am.

Three years isn’t even a full presidential term. Three years doesn’t even get you through high school. Your driver’s license isn’t even expired in three years, yet still, three years feel like the distant past.

At least to me it does.

And I know everyone’s personal perspective on this differs. For most of us, life changed in 2020. We all quarantined from loved ones. Didn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Social lives for most were non-existent.

And then 2021 rolls in and vaccinations and everyone is excited to get back to life. Sports are back. Concerts are back. Restaurants and bars are alive again. I, too, was looking forward to getting back to life.

In March of 2021, I went to a restaurant for just the second time in a year. I spent the day at a riverwalk with my nephew. I was walking amongst people again and was starting to feel normal.

Then symptoms of a muscle disease I have started to rear its ugly head and with it wiped away any semblance or hope of getting back to what I considered “normal” life.

I look at pictures from three years ago and I hardly recognize myself or that life lived just three years ago.

2019.

The last time I went to a concert. The last time I went to the movies. The last time I went to a coffee shop to relax with a cup of coffee and a book. The last time I went to the library, where I’d sit at my favorite desk to work on what I hoped to be a good story. I miss the smell of books. I miss the quietness of a library that forced me to stay focused on those words I wrote. A good portion of my book, “A Penny on the Tracks” was written at my local library.

I miss the change of scenery. I miss getting up and going wherever my mood takes me. I had many different writing destinations, and I miss them all.

My circumstances are different from most people. My health, or lack of, plays a huge part in why life isn’t normal for me. It isn’t just covid. But with covid cases rising again, along with hospital rates, even if I felt better and was able to do everything as I had done before, would I still look back at 2019 as a far-away time?

A life where facemasks weren’t needed to enter medical facilities or grocery stores or banks.

A life where you’d give an odd expression to a person walking past you wearing a facemask because the concept was so foreign to you.

A life where you could impulsively hug a person hello without asking first if they’re okay with hugs because the not-so-distant past had no personal boundaries.

A life where if a person sitting at the table over from you at Starbucks coughs and you hardly notice because it is just a cough. How harmful can a simple cough be?

Oh, those were the days. 2019, I really, really, really miss you.

I fondly remember the time I met a woman at Starbucks. Betsy. She was in her 60’s and had MS. She wanted my seat at the window. She liked sitting by the window. I gave it to her, and she peppered the top of my hand with kisses. At the time I considered that a sweet gesture. She made me smile. Not once did I think about germs and rush to squirt sanitizer on my hands.

Those really were the days.