I Don't Remember How To Live Normally

Ed Zitron 3 min read

I was just having a conversation the other day with someone about driving a car, a thing that is allegedly normal, then realized I haven’t done that in five months. I haven’t been on a plane since last January. I haven’t gone to a store to purchase something since February (Instacart or Doordash helps), other than to grab my Xbox Series X from Best Buy’s pickup in November.

I don’t think I’ve worn people clothes (IE: outside the house clothes) for more than one consecutive day since I left the bay area in May. I keep thinking of “oh yeah that time I went to New York” as if it was just yesterday, despite that being November 2019, and that time I was in Danville with family, which was in January 2020. I should preface all of this with the understanding that my life has been fine, and I am not acting as if it’s bad, or something like that, but it’s weird that my memories of things that have happened that I would otherwise use to adhere time to are all things that mostly happened in late 2019 and very early 2020.

Any time I have to speak to someone - our neighbor occasionally says hello - I feel like this guy:

Yes, I have to speak to people on Zoom all the time, and that keeps me from going into total rat mode, but I feel as if my actual people skills have atrophied, and my sense of time has gone to hell. I had to write my Best Games of 2020 for Giant Bomb, and had to sit there and really think of what games came out in 2020, what ones I actually enjoyed, and whether there were actually ten games that came out. Things that happened this year both big and small felt as if they happened this year, but were actually two years ago.

I am finding that the compound effect of all this is this genuine lack of progress on anything at all. In, say, 2018 or 2019, I had specific epochs of things that took place, even outside of major life events - friends visiting, places I’d been for work or visits to family in central California, or perhaps plans I was making - shit, even the making of plans was a way of timestamping my life, in that I was able to start looking forward to stuff. I used to be able to say that I was looking forward to something happening, but nothing has been happening.

I mean, I can look forward to X object arriving in Y timeframe - my Tonal gym thing might arrive mid to late February, for example - but that doesn’t feel like an event. It’s just a thing arriving. The vague conversations I’ve had about friends coming to visit have now utterly dissipated, because everybody has realized that there’s no clear timeframe on when we’re getting vaccinated. And even when we do, how safe are we really?

I keep thinking about this:

It’s going to be around forever! Which doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to be locked up forever, but I can’t think of any time soon, even when I am vaccinated, when I’m going to be pumped up sitting in a plane or getting on a bus or doing anything close to people without this nagging feeling in my head like I’m going to get sick.

It’s not like I went out a lot, so when I went out (or at least had people visit) it was always a way of my brain saying “alright, that’s what happened in January.” An event I remember well as if it was yesterday, where I sat eating Popeyes chicken around a fire with a friend, which I have several times described as “recently,” actually happened in December 2019. Things that I thought were last year actually happened in 2018 (Kavanaugh’s confirmation) and I feel like I moved here a month or two ago, not May 2020.

Who knows what all of this means. I feel better at the moment than I did this time last year, that’s for sure, but I also feel like like I’m repeating the same day again and again and again, doing the same things and seeing incremental changes here and there but, for the most part, like playing a procedurally-generated version of my own life. But I’m happy and healthy, so I’ll take this over the alternative.

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