S T O R I E S from K R A K O W

“Yes, it is a ‘new normal’, so deal with it!”

Besides my husband and son, I have not spent physical time with any of my family members in more than 6 months. No, it’s not the result of the pandemic. It’s called emigration.

I speak with my parents over video chat, and call other family members over WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. I stay abreast of friends’ lives thanks to their many regular updates on social media. I do most of my shopping online. And yet, even before Covid-19 hit, I mostly sat writing and working in my home office, staying connected with my family and friends via various technologies, and that was normal.

How abnormal!

The stay-at-home order may be new, but I can’t pretend that social distancing is unprecedented. Our technologies and social media have been distancing us from each other for years. The only difference is, I could hop in my car and go visit my family whenever I felt like it. Now, I cannot.
Of course, I am one of the lucky ones. Around us, economies are faltering. Healthcare systems are strained. My home country is in ruins. The aftermath of the pandemic left a path of destruction emotionally, physically, socially, economically, and politically.
People continue to unexpectedly lose their loved ones, and regret that they couldn’t be with them in their final moments. It’s become my greatest fear – that I will not be there when loved ones leave this earth. There are three definitions of normality – statistical, aspirational and functional – and they often end up sliding into each other during everyday conversation. This collapse is evident in many of our discussions about what “the new normal” will look like post-Covid.
But in real term, the “new normal” simply means that most of us will go back to most of what we were doing before the pandemic struck , but that our societies will make changes for the better, which will end up being good for the survival of our communities. The survival of humanity’s day to day lives.
So, we kind of want to go back to where we were, but we also kind of don’t. We want things to be the same, but we also want them to be different. Why then, would we use the word “normal” at all?

The definition of “normal” might be hard to pin down, but its function is pretty clear. NORMAL IS SAFE. NORMAL IS FAMILIAR.

Midst the pandemic, we all longed to return to life as it was – to normality – and suddenly it’s here! Now, this “normal” we craved, for me means, going back to school to learn a new language, finding my feet in a new country, it means my husband is going abroad to work for weeks away at a time. It means staying behind but this time, without anything that’s familiar.
We so desperately wanted to return to “normal” but for us, who emigrated literally days before the global lockdown, returning to our so called “normal life” is like returning to a time that never existed.

The reality is that our journey won’t be a return so much as it is a departure. So, yes… it is a NEW NORMAL and the only way out is to deal with it!

With ♡ from Krakow