It’s wonderful. We are talking, meeting, eating with friends and families once again. We are striking up conversations with total strangers – at least I don’t think I am the only one doing that. As we are trying to return to “normal” I am increasingly aware of not being my normal self. Two years of isolation, restrictions, separations have weighed heavily on me. I’m not sure I know what my normal self is any more.
I am from New Orleans and I am confident this reaction is the same following any natural disaster: people need to talk. People need to share their horror stories about danger, rescue, and death. And they need to share them over and over. Having lived through the same natural disaster we feel assured of a certain degree of commonality, of innate understanding between us and other disaster survivors. They will believe us. We have together survived a world-wide epidemic and lived to tell the tale, the worst since the Flu pandemic of 1918 that caused 60 million deaths all over the world. We have survived and we are ready to move the hell on.
For years after Hurricane Katrina we needed to share our Katrina stories. Standing in the newly opened grocery we would turn and ask: How much.. (water in your house); Where… (did you evacuate to); When … (did you come back). Family members or total strangers would act as our in situ therapist, listening to us just long enough to give them the social permission to jump in with their own stories for us to hear. And then came Covid-19. Not just a shared city or state experience, or even a national one. This was a WORLD. WIDE. EXPERIENCE. For two years people shared their horror stories of multiple deaths in the same small community, sometimes in the same family. Of being cut off from the dying, unable to say goodbye. A worldwide shared trauma. And it’s been too much. We don’t want to talk about it anymore. At least I don’t. And I think the feeling is common – here in New Orleans anyway.
It’s 2023 and we’re done. Covid might not be, but we are. We are out and about. Breathing freely. Meeting and greeting. We’ve stopped reading Covid updates. We’ve stopped telling our lockdown stories and tragic death stories. We are celebrating Mardi Gras. We are gearing up for French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. We don’t want to know about the numbers in Europe and China, or the latest Co-vid variants. Just let us have our Fest season in peace. Our hospitality and food based economy has suffered and we are all ready to eat out and support them.
Tomorrow May be Ash Wednesday but we are ready for a Resurrection. Do I hear an Amen?