I’m back, out and about in the world, and missing some things more than ever

The pandemic has been going on a long time now and its effects can be odd and disconcerting. Friends were chatting recently about not being sure any more about whether they missed certain kinds of in person events. They said they’d lost touch with the person they were, the person who left the house, and travelled, and did things with other people they didn’t live with. Who even was that person? We were talking about academic conferences but it applies equally well to travel and fitness adventures.

I get it, this sense of becoming a different sort of person and not recognizing the person you are now in some of the things we did in the past. I hope I never go to work sick again. I hope I remember to wear a mask on public transit, if I’m unwell. But some ways of life in the Before Times are calling to me and the voices are louder than ever.

For me, as I start to emerge into the world more, it’s clearer to me how much I’ve missed events with people in the flesh. I’m now back in my office four or five days a week. I’m eating at restaurants indoors sometimes and I’m even back at the gym. That’s all possible because of vaccines and vaccine passports. Thanks scientists, thanks public health, and thanks politicians who’ve listened. It also helps that I don’t live with anyone who isn’t vaccinated. My children are all in their twenties. The oldest even turns 30 next year and has a master’s degree.

Now that Canada has lifted a global advisory against non-essential travel I’m even starting to think about travelling again. Sarah and I will likely go visit Jeff on the boat in January and go biking in Florida again. My next work travel is Montreal in November and after that, Vancouver in the spring. But I’ve also got some Air Canada credits and I’m thinking of places I might go. Hiking in Iceland maybe? Biking in Cuba? I’m still weighing those thoughts in the bigger context of climate change and wondering if maybe we should avoid extra trips, but what’s clear in my mind, absent that consideration, is that I’m still the person who wants to do that, even if I don’t do it for ethical reasons.

I joked the other night that I am starting to turn down Zoom invites for social things. I think I might not take part in virtual conferences post pandemic. But maybe I can take a year off and I’ll feel differently after that. We’ll see. As an academic administrator, it’s been long, full days of virtual meetings ever since the pandemic began.

And to be clear, I don’t get to say when I’m done. It’s a pandemic. Being done with the pandemic doesn’t mean the pandemic is done with us. I’ll follow the rules and public health advice because that’s the kind of person I am. But I am clear about what I want, even if I can’t always have it.

Here’s a contrast that made me laugh. Our ParticipACTION team is in (virtual) Newfoundland again and then photos of me in the actual place started to show up in my social media newsfeed. Oh, Newfoundland. I can’t wait to go back!

On the left me in actual Gros Morne, wearing bike clothes and a helmet standing in front of a National Parks sign. On the right, my team in virtual Gros Morne, Nfld on the PAtricipACTION app.

How are you feeling about all this as we emerge from what I hope is the worst of the pandemic and pandemic related restrictions?