Teri Vance: A new normal emerges from quarantine

I was talking with my sister the other day about how quickly things in our world have changed so drastically.

When I watch TV now I notice how often people touch their faces or hang out in close proximity with large groups of strangers, without a care in the world.

It’s like watching footage from ’70s with newscasters smoking on the air or movies from just a few years ago where people are talking on their phones and driving.

Things are always changing, but this pandemic has brought sweeping changes at a rapid pace.

As strange as it’s been for us adults, I can’t imagine how it will affect our children.

I wondered aloud to my sister what my 4-year-old niece, Maggie, must be thinking of it all. Living through this as a young girl (I had changed it to “young girl” because she had taken offense when I’d called her a “baby” earlier in the conversation) would be such a trip.

Maggie corrected me, “I’m not a young girl, I’m a quarantine girl,” she said.

It’s already a part of her identity.

I was about her age when I got the chicken pox. My older sister had them, so, as was the custom at the time, my mom and aunt threw my cousin and I in the bathtub with her so we’d all go through it at the same time.

I remember hearing them talking of exposing us all and their reluctance mixed with resolve to do what was in our best interest.

I knew something big was happening. Then I started breaking out in itchy red spots and came down with a fever.

I was miserable. For what felt like forever.

I have no idea how long I was sick. In my child’s mind, I thought this was my new life.

I do remember after the bumps went away and the itching stopped, I was left with a divot in the skin on my temple.

I remember marveling at the pock mark, knowing I was changed forever from this experience. (I was a weird kid who thought too hard about things.)

Today’s generation of kids will have their own memories of this time. A definite line between the before and after.

We are planning a birthday party this weekend for my step-daughter’s 19th birthday.

Normally we would have gone to dinner and maybe a movie or a puzzle room. Now, we are preparing dinner at home, and we’ll all watch a movie in the living room. Or maybe play a game.

It will be a fun celebration. We always enjoy spending time together. But it will stand out as a birthday in quarantine.

As restrictions begin to ease starting today, we will all be charged with finding a new normal.

There will be some old habits we can’t wait to pick up — like greeting people with a hug or a handshake. And there will be others best left behind.

We will all emerge from this time with some scars, but, hopefully, we will have a new perspective as well.


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