Back to Normal

The past couple of months have not been tremendous for my mental health, despite being - where I live - objectively better in terms of COVID, vaccinations, etc. I think that I had set a lot of stock in getting vaccinated without realizing that as the parents of two kids who can’t be vaccinated not a lot was going to materially change in our lives. A lot of anxiety went away, which is good because we both got slammed by seasonal allergies and I’m extremely thankful I didn’t have to worry about it it was *really* COVID, but our day to day life is much the same as it was in January. And we are INCREDIBLY burned out.

I’ve been very anxious about the idea of “getting back to normal,” especially in terms of going back to the office. I don’t know if I have the social skills or, honestly, the mental stability to go back - and as we’re struggling to find childcare I’m worried about leaving my wife with both kids. So both of these elements has been difficult for me - things don’t seem “better” for us but a big impending difficulty is overshadowing the next few months.

K’s mother came up to visit on Thursday, and last night we actually stepped out for a drink once we had gotten the kids to bed. Our neighborhood does not have an excess of bars - it has one, which I love because it has $2 frosted mug budweiser drafts - but which is a bit too divey for date night, even for us, and it doesn’t have an outdoor space and... it was not an extremely well-ventilated space frequented by very healthy men BEFORE the pandemic - and so we walked about twenty minutes to an adjacent neighborhood. It has been a VERY long time since K and I got to be out, in the evening, together, and it was startlingly nice. It’s not very crowded by us so we had our masks off for most of the walk, only popping them up when passing other people.

We got to the bar, which is great and very much a Bar - K remarked that sitting on old church pews at a slightly sticky table, lit by red fairy lights in the window and a flickering Manischevitz candle, felt exactly like every place we patronized regularly from our early 20s to early 30s. It felt very weird entering a space where nobody was wearing a mask, and I had a moment of panic when I realized there were no seats outside but we settled in by the back door and got drinks and then K said, hey, why don’t you text L & T, two of our oldest friends who we haven’t seen in a WHILE.

I did and they were available and happy to come out and it felt - if not exactly the same then very much like all of the innumerable Friday nights when we have all four sat at bars like that and had beers like that and conversations like that. We eventually moved to a table outside when one opened up and stayed out until almost midnight, the latest K and I have been out since we had our FIRST kid. Our little group was probably a bit more anxious than anyone else there - we all masked up when inside - but, you know, baby steps.

I feel really replenished - we should have tried to start meeting up with people right after we were fully vaccinated but it just didn’t feel possible, logistically or emotionally. Hopefully we’ll be able to start having date nights and seeing friends more often and that can kind of give us a better emotional cushion for the next few months.