March 11: A Year of Pandemic

It was exactly a year ago today that the pandemic got real for most Americans. Amid a lot of mixed signals and unknowns, the headlines were strange, bleak and cinematic.

March 11, 2020

  • Dr. Fauci testified before Congress about the outbreak, but no one was wearing a mask or social distancing.
  • We were all waiting to hear about Harvey Weinstein’s sentencing, but that was overshadowed when we heard that Tom Hanks was COVID positive.
  • The official word came down from the World Health Organization that this was indeed a “global pandemic.”
  • But what really got most everyone’s attention: the NBA played its last games. 

Me? I had (thankfully) gotten my hair done the day before, my kids were still in school, my friends didn’t understand why I was canceling plans for the weekend (which they ended up canceling as well as the days went on and things got worse), and I was embarking on an Instagram Story Tirade that would last another 12 months, and counting. 

We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our neighbors, our resilience and our weaknesses over the last year. Over half a million Americans have died, and every last one of us knows someone who was irrevocably affected by COVID-19. We will truly never be the same. And while grief (and its accompanying emotions) are all valid forms of ways to deal with the last twelve months, I’ve been keeping a Ryan Howard checklist of folks I’m done with and all the things I’ve learned from a year of pandemic-ness. Here they are:


People are the worst.

This one goes without saying. All you have to do is drive to your local Trader Joe’s to get some wasabi almonds and find yourself amid a Greek Chorus of Lululemon ladies refusing to cover their face holes to know that the people you thought were just like you, are nothing like you. People are the worst. 

I almost didn’t expect it. I thought the people like me would be like me: conscientious, careful, considerate. But everyone was wilding. My IG stories were full of me posting “Stay Home, Dummies” and screenshots of Italian cautionary tales essentially saying, “If everyone hadn’t been selfish assholes, this wouldn’t have gotten so bad.” I don’t know why in the world I thought people could look at evidence, extrapolate it into their own lives, and act accordingly to prevent tragedy. 

They didn’t. We didn’t. We’re still living this nightmare. And it’s because your best friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your family, didn’t do the right thing a year ago today. They didn’t take this seriously. Then they kept on not taking it seriously. 

Harsh I know. But it’s not even the worst thing they did. As the months went on, you know they did worse. But in those early days, last March, it was just a simple request: stay home. For a few weeks. Stay home alone. And they couldn’t do it. They didn’t even try. People are truly the worst. 

We are NOT the worst.

We sacrificed. We didn’t take that trip to see that friend, even though we had bought the plane tickets months before and the virus wasn’t really that bad in March. We stayed home during Spring Break. We cooked for three weeks straight so that local restaurants and workers could also stay home and stay safe. We shared Lysol if we had extra. We shared info when we had it. We made each other homemade masks and mailed them.

We had group chats with the best of us where we commiserated about how much this sucks, and how we could see the train running off the tracks in every far flung part of the country every time one of our friends or neighbors or coworkers posted some other thing they were doing in public. Together, we realized with slow impending doom that this was not going to be over before fall. 

We developed a bit of a justifiable superiority complex. We cared about our community. Other people didn’t. How do we know? Half a million people are dead. 

Evolution is Real. 

I figured this one out in my 12th grade Bible class when my teacher refused to agree that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 had completely different creation stories, but it was a nice confirmation to see it work out in real time in our lives. We evolved over the last year. Back in March of 2020, the idea of staying home seemed almost quaint, a bit of a forced staycation from regular life. We walked the dogs, watched Spring appear in the cherry trees and forsythia shrubs, we opened the pool, talked on Facetime, and brought groceries to our parents. 


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But it was just the beginning. As March turned to April turned to May, we realized that the first couple of weeks of isolation had just been cocooning us in a hard shell because the people we were turning into needed a warm place to transmogrify. People went through real trauma after those first couple of weeks. People dealt with lost jobs, dangerous home lives where escape was impossible, loneliness and shattered expectations. 

From what I’ve seen, the people I love are more resilient, more empathetic, and more grounded than they were in March of 2020. We learned to mourn without selfishness. We learned to live without it. 

Whatever that “it” is for you – for me it’s trips to visit castles in Europe and eat tacos in San Diego and see friends on the east coast – you lived without it. But you won’t have to forever. 

We’re evolving. After all, what is the vaccine if not a super-secret deep state satanic sputnik bent on the ruin of ‘merica with its 5G microchipped mark of the beast? It’s definitely turning us into something. 

Happy March 11, 2021, friends. We made it. This far. 

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