I'm Looking Forward to Long Lines & Traffic Jams

For the last few months, we’ve all been anxious, desperate to reach the finish line of the COVID chapter of our collective lives. We’ve been through all the motions now - the baking, the cooking, the productivity overdrive, and the slump of “time means nothing” and “every day is the same.” I, for one, almost lost the ability to see what lies ahead and what the world will look like when this is all over. woman lying in white bed  Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy from Unsplash Thinking about the future can be anxiety-inducing, mostly for the obvious reasons: what does my life look like 10 years from now? But recently, there’s been a shift to look at it as what does the WORLD look like 10 months from now, let alone years. While these are all valid thoughts, I invite you to think about it in a different light. One that I refused to look at until very recently when I successfully drained myself of every possible thing I could think to do and had no choice but to circle back to being hopeful again. While some people are (questionably) out and about, going to restaurants and parties maskless, there are others (like me) who maintained social distancing precautions, stayed home, and kept up with quarantine as per local government recommendations, and because of that, much like everyone else, I miss when things were “normal."

Without sounding cheesy and wide-eyed, full of hope for the future, I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m going to be grateful for once this is over - the things I wouldn’t have thought twice about pre-COVID. I don’t just mean the main events like going outside and meeting friends or even going back to regularly scheduled, non-virtual school or work settings. I mean the little things along the way that get us there. The stuff that gets lost in the daily motions of life. Let me explain.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck in traffic. The sound of an angry truck driver or unnecessarily loud music blaring from a slick black vehicle that's racing by as I drive down the freeway. The sun in my eyes, clouding my vision as I try to see the blocked road ahead of me, full of cars waiting to get to wherever they need to be.

I’m looking forward to putting on jeans, a full face of makeup (including lip gloss since there’ll be no mask for it to get stuck on), and going out for a nice meal. The only pants I’ve worn in the last couple of months have been sweatpants, sweat shorts, leggings, and occasionally a loose pair of jeans on days I feel like I need that extra push. I want to put on my skinny jeans and heels and go out for a nice dinner, while simultaneously complaining to my friends about how the food is taking so long or how hungry I am. Latte Art Kelsey Emery / Spoon I’m looking forward to waiting in line. As absurd as that sounds, I want to be standing less than six feet apart from a stranger in a noisy coffee shop, waiting to buy my overpriced latte and blueberry muffin before I run to class. I want to experience the mild panic as I see that I have 8 minutes to get across campus and make it to class on time when there are still two people standing ahead of me in line. 

I’m looking forward to grocery shopping in an overcrowded store, getting hungry along the way because I forgot to eat a snack before leaving my house, and buying an unnecessarily large amount of snacks to munch on as I continue my weekly shop, without having to sanitize my hands or wipe down the wrapper before I eat. 

These things might sound silly, but if you think about it, it’s these little things along the way that get us to our destinations. It was the extra-long line that we used as an excuse to be late, it was the pair of jeans that fit just right that got us feeling a little more confident as we stepped out of the house, and the loud blaring music of a stranger on the freeway that became the small talk in an uncomfortable situation. I miss these little things that acted like connectors among the sentences of our lives. Right now, it seems like one giant run-on sentence, with no full stops along the way.

I will never take these things for granted again. So yes, I do look forward to the world post-COVID, and I do miss my lattes, but I’ll be looking out for these little things as I go about my life now. I don’t want to miss out on any more of them without realizing it again.