August 19, 2020 by readlisaread
We are fast coming up on the one year mark of the novel COVID-19 virus. It’s been a year, actually, since it first appeared in China, but shit didn’t become really real until the toilet paper hoarding that heralded the lockdown and protocols of early 2020.
Yeah. 2020. Or, as I will refer to it from the future– the Lost Year.
And we’re not done yet.
I haven’t written much in awhile, gentle reader, so buckle up… or get a snack. Here we go.
There are a lot of thoughts I would really like to share– from my abject terror at the start, to my disbelief at the cavalier approach some took, the confusion and pain as the sand shifted under our feet. Then resolve. Then exasperation. Then resolve re-doubled. And the world as we knew it changed forever. I know how I’m going forward, and no smirking or eye-rolling or complacent “Our numbers are low on the Island…” derision will change my resolute forward (masked) motion.
The Lost Year has kicked my ass. But it hasn’t won.
In a mini-epiphany (a min-pihany) the other day, I realized that the popularity of dystopian fiction was probably going to diminish significantly, since here we are living it. I think the next big genre is going to be Dystopia’s bastard, slightly daft, cousin The Revisionist. I’ve seen it in movies and TV already– from NetFlix to Tarantino. Little subtle messages about consent woven into stories of Suffragettes. A lesson in bias and white privilege added to the retelling of a familiar story that used to be about the French Revolution. Formerly revered leaders’ viewed through the lens of 21st Century morality….and found wanting.
Knowing what we know now, relegating space aliens and magic creatures for a moment just to pure fiction, have we arrived at our Near Dystopian Future? Is this what we thought, or were we really more frightened at the thought of Killer Robots? Or are they still coming (riding in on Murder Hornets)?
At the beginning of this, the COVIDian Times, while I was frightened, I was also hopeful. The canals of Venice were cleaner than they had ever been in my life. The sun was visible from the streets of Beijing. People delivered groceries for their elderly neighbours. We pulled together and supported our friends and colleagues. We cheered and beat drums at health care workers’ shift change. And then it became apparent why Dystopian Fiction remains so popular. Human nature won out. People not only started arguing about masks, they drew derisive and even violent lines in the sand about it. (Meta note– refusing to wear a mask puts you right up there with anti-vaxxers and toilet paper hoarders in my estimation, just so you know). The Canals filled with garbage again. People protested the health and safety protocols in the name of Civil Liberty. And Money, as always, was the final stand. Money, budgets, systemic organizational thrift…. that was tantamount to all the other stuff.
So here we are, living in our own Dystopia. How’s that working for you?
Here is what I am looking forward to in the Near (I bloody hope) Non-Dystopian future. I am looking forward to a different kind of Novel. Where going to a movie is the special, rare treat it was when I was 7. When going out for a meal with friends is a special occasion, like a real special occasion, as big as a birthday or a wedding, even if it’s just a random Tuesday of no significance. I look forward to the new social mores. Where we step aside to let people pass. Where we wait patiently in line, because we are all going at the same speed. And where hugs are intensely special again. Where taking a stranger’s hand sends a spark up my arm to brain, which replies “What!?!? Who is this new person!? COOL!!!”
I’ll wait it out, masked, bubbled, cooking my own meals and watching movies on the small screen. I’ll wait. We are not going back to The Before Times, not ever, but I look forward to what the Post-COVIDian Era presents. But when I write about, and I probably will, it will not be through a whitewashed, Revisionist lens. I see you, I saw how you treated your neighbours, your employees, the teller and cashier and mail person. I know how you treated me, your friends, your loved ones. I saw you, and I will remember. How do you want to feature in my story?
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