I've had friends and acquaintances tell me I'm "angry and negative" these last several months since March. There were certainly a couple of days in April when warm, frustrating tears spilled out of my eyes all day long. I couldn't shake the feeling, despite my otherwise strong and feisty attitude. I WAS angry and feeling very negative about many aspects of life in the "new normal". It seemed foolish, unnecessary and very uncalled for...and yet, there I was, watching an avalanche of rights and freedoms being swept out from under me and millions of other Americans.
But I’m not alone. There are many Americans who feel this way. We’ve been amazed and astonished to see marketing rolled out so quickly for countless big box stores, government buildings and every website with an email newsletter. "How did they pull it all together so fast?", we wondered. The marketing campaigns for the "new normal" were rolled out with the utmost convenience and ease. A multi-million dollar mask industry began booming before our very eyes. From the grandma bored off her keester at home, to the grocery stores, everyone had masks available for purchase. You couldn't find Lysol or toilet paper to save your life. Meat and fresh vegetables were also difficult to come by, but junk food and alcohol was plentiful.
We couldn't exercise in gyms because they were closed. The weather in most parts of the country was still chilly and/or rainy but families were encouraged to hunker down indoors anyway. It became a running joke to see who could complain the most about being bored or gaining the "quarantine fifteen". We longed to visit our favorite stores and restaurants. Special events, concerts and graduations were cancelled. The most frustrating part of this was the hopelessness. We couldn't even postpone activities because we were told over and over, "This is the new normal."
Stories, videos and memes were shared as a way of connecting with others who saw their lives being destroyed. Small business owners lost their decades of progress and were threatened with fines and jail time if they tried to open their doors. People went from protesting their right to work and to save children of human trafficking, to protesting to save alleged criminals of all varieties, including druggies and pedophiles.
Police became the bad guys. Flags were stomped on, burned or ripped to shreds. Law and order became a game of politics at every level. Our experts were lying and lining their pockets while the healers and truth-tellers quickly became censored and discredited. Those who questioned what was happening to our country were named conspiracy theorists and "far right racists", even if the discussion topic had nothing to do with race. The mobs grew ugly and more dangerous. The "fiery but mostly peaceful protests" involved looting, stabbing, shooting and millions of dollars worth of damage to major cities around the country. Meanwhile, politicians and citizens continued to point fingers at "Orange Man Bad".
Schools were shut down and children were sent home, without a plan, without a goodbye and without a strategy for the coming school year. New terms were invented for almost everything "old", including hybrid and distance learning for even the smallest kindergartener. Homeschooling numbers surged across the country, while other parents took out loans to pay for private schools.
Citizens who had never been dependent on anyone or anything, found themselves dependent on the very government that destroyed their livelihood. People looked back at just a few months prior and longed for the problems they had then.
We’re still amazed at how much has happened in just six months. Most of it IS negative, it’s sad to say. Yes, we are angry and rightfully so. Our country didn't deserve this. Our people don't deserve this. These rules and regulations were made up, not for our safety, but for our control. It worked, and it worked at warp speed.
We want the old normal back. We want it back with every fiber of our being. We want our biggest problem to be, “How can I afford my son's new computer?” or “How can we meet a client deadline ahead of schedule?” We want an October filled with posts complaining about Pumpkin Spice instead of the coming of the Antichrist. We want to see people smile again, and not just with their eyes. We want to hug people without hesitation or a solemn promise that they don't have a fever.
We want to go shopping knowing their normal hours and walking in with my usual wipe on the cart handle...and that's it. We want to go back to our usual protective mothering like walking through a mall and telling the kids to keep their hands off the escalator railing, or to use the bathroom before we leave home so they don't have to use a gross public restroom.
We want the old normal back so we can wear the other 80% of our clothes and socialize this holiday season. We want to work like we used to, and play hooky when we wanted to stay home instead. We want to go back to living vicariously through others when they posted their vacation pictures on social media. We want to go back to dreaming and hoping for a better tomorrow, not one that is worse than today. We want the "old normal" back and we know that you do too.