Fashion & Trend

The Year of Lost Time

In three weeks, it will be March again. 

This means, among other things, that a year will have elapsed since we started living in this weird abbreviated existence, mostly in lockdown. It’s been a year of unimaginable suffering for many. At least 481,000 Americans are dead, though likely the real number is higher. There’s the club of people with dead fathers, a club which a handful of my friends have joined. For women and women of color particularly, the suffering has been significantly worse. Women between the ages of 25 to 54 are increasingly dropping out of the work force to take care of their children. My neighborhood is an extremely sad mosaic of closed restaurants and storefronts, each one representing multiple livelihoods crushed. 

In some ways, it’s been a year of lost time. Soon, my niece will turn 1 and I still haven’t met her. My teenage son has spent his junior year hiding from his parents in his bedroom. It’s been a year that in some ways barely happened, a year of absence and silence.  And, yet, in other ways it has been a year that happened loudly and painfully in the most profoundly disturbing way. Last year, on the final day of February, I returned home from covering the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, and I pretty much never left. For months, my only contact with the outside world was circumscribed by the view from the window of my apartment.

The early months of the pandemic felt terrifying and apocalyptic. Some of my friends had their husbands put on ventilators, and one friend had her husband die. It reminded me of the early days of AIDS, with people getting sick and none of us knowing why or how. I had never in my worst anxieties imagined a world where we’d just have to stop doing everything we were doing. I mostly hid in my apartment (an enormous luxury, I know). I was scared. My husband, who has asthma, was convinced he was going to die of Covid if he got infected. I kept my kids home. We cleaned our groceries before putting them away. Everything tasted faintly of Windex.

In the before times, I had been busy. Profoundly busy. I had gone to dinners and lunches. I would go to DC two or three times a month. I would see my kids, but I was like a special guest in the home. Sure, I would drop them off at school, but often I would then disappear to “traveling” or at a “dinner.” I mimicked my own childhood, leaving them with caregivers or their father. I was raised by a mother who traveled pathologically. She went from book tour to book tour to conference. Her father, an exporter, traveled pathologically as well. But in March, 2020, all of that stopped. There were no more work events, no more traveling, no more excuses. The world was just now me, my husband and our three children. There was no way to escape the intimacy. There were no more school drop-offs, nor were there school pick-ups. The circadian rhythm of domestic life were gone, and only the cheerful chore of dog walking remained.

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