For a year now, I’ve steadily gorged myself on information, wanting to make meaning from its ceaseless flow. Now I have more of it, of information, than I can possibly handle.

But the day I bookmarked’s case count, some time back in the spring, there were 785,807 cases of COVID-19, 37,820 deaths — in the world. Today there are 81 million more cases, 1.7 million more deaths.

As an antidote to the sheer enormity of those numbers, media floats the notion, a tiny twig tossed into that river of information threatening to engulf us, that maybe now in these COVID times we can find ourselves.

Truth be told, trying to do that is just an attempt to make meaning from madness, paltry in the face of such change and loss.

A year later, I wonder why I even bothered to bookmark some website that counted cases. What good was that information ever going to do me? But I did that before they temporarily turned Madrid’s ice skating rink into a morgue. Before it became second nature to slather our hands with sanitizer. Before I started to wish I could throw every KN95 mask in the apartment onto a bonfire because I’d developed such a negative pavlovian response to the smell of the paper they were made from. Before I wore a pair of sneakers out, with COVID walking. Before our city had been truly, honest-to-God confined for 10 weeks, and our tiny health zone theoretically confined for 10 weeks more.***

Before before before before before before before.

And now here we are. In the still point, the waning of the year, this strange space before the After.

***Our tiny health zone has the highest number of cases in Madrid again. They’ll announce whether it will be confined next Monday.