How to be around people again

Next week I go back to work in-person for the first time in over a year. 

I’m a different person than I was in March 2020. 

I have birthed and met my daughter. She will be six months old this week. We brought a puppy into our family. Pandemic pounds, paired with being postpartum and nursing mean my clothes no longer fit the same. 

I haven’t set an alarm clock in over a year. 

Most days I don’t leave my house. 

I’m ready to get back to work and also unsure if I’ll remember how to be with other humans. This article about how the pandemic has changed our brains resonates. 

Can I sip my coffee while I teach? How will I know if masked students understand what I’m teaching? At least seeing their eyes is more than a black box on the screen. 

How do we greet each other now? Wave our fingers in the peace sign like our new way to “pass the peace” at church? Yell hi from six feet away? Does my masked smile come up to my eyes? No hugs, no handshakes, no fist bumps. For how long? How long will we avoid one another? 

I watched some videos of Declan from last Spring. He was a baby and now he’s a boy. 

Will he remember this strange time? Will there be remnants of our new reality that never leave? Maeve looks at me with confusion when I’m wearing a mask, like she’s waiting for the peek-a-boo, but it never comes. 

I overheard a girl tell her mom she forgot her mask as we set out for a walk at a state park. “It’s ok,” her mom replied, “just stay away from people.”

How long do we just stay away? 

How are you feeling about returning to daily life in-person? How has your world changed in the last 12 months? Do you find yourself wondering how you’ll function after “all this” has become normalized? What do you think will stay with us from these pandemic times?