This morning, I asked someone how was your zoom?, a question that would’ve been nonsensical a year ago. A year ago — back when normal was just normal, instead of the “new normal,” which isn’t normal at all, no matter how we try to slice it. Flattening curves, starting waves (Spain now entering its 4th) — when we’re not even surfers.
The first time I heard the phrase Covid-Fatigue, I took it extremely literally. Covid-Fatigue, as in being so weary of Covid you no longer followed the rules. (According to the media, this was a state Americans reached last summer.) Covid-fatigue wasn’t benign, but at least it seemed like something an individual could partially control. Now, as we look toward our second summer of Covid, we may have entered the realm of Covid-Fatigue 2.0, another, more pernicious animal entirely.
I guess when I say we I mean those of us here in Europe. The U.S. failed on many Covid-fronts, but at least it has been getting shots into arms. This morning I read in El Pais that in Spain half of those over the age of 80 have received one shot. Didn’t I write that a month ago? Two months ago? We seem to be running in place. We still can’t leave Madrid. We still aren’t supposed to have anyone over to our apartment. Masks must be worn at all times outside —except when you are eating and drinking at a sidewalk cafe. (You’re supposed to only lower your mask to take a bite or a sip and then replace it, but I have yet to see this being either performed or policed). And Madrid is a cakewalk, I hear, compared to Paris.
Covid-Fatigue 2.0 is more kin to Decision-Fatigue than it is to Covid-Fatigue 1.0’s rebellion. Should I try to fly to the U.S. to try to get vaccinated before 2022? I don’t know, it’s too hard to figure out, let me wander into the kitchen and eat a cookie. The neighbors had people over to watch the Real Madrid game last weekend. Does that mean we should invite somebody over to sit on our terrace this weekend? I don’t know, it’s too hard to think about, I’ll just look at my Facebook feed for a second instead. Should I ride the subway? Should I weigh the pros and cons before I ride the subway? Should I not? Should we try to find another little town in the Community of Madrid to visit on the weekend, or should we just stay home?
Here in our pod (another Covid-term), we’ve each adopted our own way of coping with this new fugue state. M plays a zombie-killing game on his phone after dinner. I sit beside him on the sofa, looking at houses in the Madrid suburbs I would never actually move to on Idealista.com, Spain’s version of Zillow.
Last night when I went in Younger Daughter’s room to remind her it was time for bed, she had her head bent over her laptop. What’re you doing? I asked her.
— Looking at Google Maps.
I sat down on the bed beside her. She explained a little more. What she did was, she found tiny towns in the United States with names she liked and then explored them. Did you know that in Casper, Wy, there’s a taco stand in the middle of a field? She dragged and clicked and suddenly, there was all America displayed for us on the computer screen.
Vacant movie theatres.
Ice cream shops.
The residential areas are boring, she said. She clicked and dragged some more.
So many Main Streets, with hardly anything left on them! So many fields! So many roads.
This morning, I woke up and thought: tonight maybe she and I should visit Greece.