Emerging From Exile

Spring has always been my favorite season. After the long, cold dreariness of three months of winter that feels like six, it is invigorating to see green again. Sun and warmth slowly awaken as the days get longer, grass grows, and the flowers and trees begin to bloom. The air feels and smells different, and everything seems bright and new. It’s as if everything is reborn, and with that comes a sense of optimism and a feeling that the slate is wiped clean and anything is possible.

The difference between this year and years past is that it feels as if the winter we have emerged from has lasted fourteen months, and in many ways it has. Although we got to enjoy spring and summer last year, the pandemic was still surging and we, like many others, chose to exile ourselves in our homes, and communicate with family and loved ones remotely. Human contact was mininal, and as the months dragged on, we became entrenched in our routines, stayed ensconsed in the comfortable cells of our homes, and watched the world seemingly implode. Our worlds shrunk, and it was hard to be stuck with the same people day in and day out for over 426 days (I counted them) without being resentful and irratable. Anyone who says their mood didn’t change one bit during all of this is either lying or delusional.

For me, the last three months have been especially long, primarily because we could finally see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel that wasn’t an oncoming train, but were still on the endless treadmill of keeping ourselves safe, which meant continued isolation while waiting for the vaccines to arrive. I found the process tedious, frustrating, and it sapped all of my creative juices. I couldn’t think of anything to blog about without it sounding whiny or like a broken record. I haven’t spent nearly the amount of time I had hoped to on novel number two, and have generally been unable to enjoy anything. I’ve been existing, not living, as if on automatic pilot. The daily routine always revolved around a combination of the following: Get up, work, eat, take care of the house, go out occasionally for essentials, try not to get into an argument, try to find someting new and interesting on television, sleep. It was like Groundhog’s Day on steroids.

But things have changed. We’re all vaccinated now, and within ten days all of us will have passed the two week threshold. We can get back to a sense of normalcy that has been lost, and an emotion that has long been absent is returning with a vengance: hope.

How symbolic is that this has occurred during a season that symbolizes rebirth? As I have ventured out more these last couple of weeks, I am noticing little things that I have long taken for granted, like the sight of a robin, flowers blooming, or the bright green color of the new leaves as they begin to sprout from their limbs. I notice the fresh crispness in the air, and the smell of ozone after a thunderstorm or heavy rain. It is as if I was blind to all these things, but being deprived of them for so long has allowed me to experience them as if it were the first time.

My hope is to not waste the lessons learned from this nightmare we are awakening from. Namely, make time for family and friends because they are important. Enjoy the outdoors and the wonder and beauty that Mother Nature has to offer, and do whatever you can to help sustain and protect it. Be kind to one another and not let differences of opinion become open warfare.

That last one may be wishful thinking, at least in the short term. I wish the lesson everyone could take out of this is to stop being so fucking selfish and end the dissension and polarization that has become so entrenched in our politics how we interact with one another. After all the hardship and death that has dominated life for what feels like forever, doesn’t it make sense to move past our greivances and try to find common ground? Hopefully we will get there over time, but that is a different subject for a different day.

For now, I want to bathe in a renewed sense of optimism and freedom. Even thought the experience was awful and has left scars, I want to celebrate the fact that the worst is over, and and everyone I love is still here. The new normal will be different, but the fact that we are actually visiting friends in person tomorrow for the first time in fourteen months is liberating. No masks required is the cherry on top.

It couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Who knows, if things continue to proecced in this direction, I might actually enjoy next winter for a change.

Author: Steve Markesich

I am loving husband, a doting father, a Red Sox fanatic, an aspiring novelist and MS advocate. Feel free to check out my stevemarkesich.com web site.

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