It’s lunch break and I decide to walk outside and get some sun and much-needed vitamin D. It’s empty outside. This summer, there were lots of people out walking for their lunch in the strip mall, but they are mostly gone now. I pass a cafe that is abandoned; people used to gravitate there, but now it is completely empty. The emptiness feels like it’s everywhere.
I go back inside my office. Many people are missing in the cubicle farm. Coughs echo throughout the room. Some people wear masks at their desks, something no one has done before.
Everything feels eerie. Everyone I know seems sick. I do not feel well. I still feel sick from, what I suspect was a bad case of COVID, but I will not know what I had because there were no tests available, not for miles and miles. I do not think the Vitamin D I just received outside will do me much good, at least not in the immediate future.
I try to work, but I struggle to concentrate. There’s the feeling that something is off, something is changing, the pull of some existential shift in our collective hearts is creating its own gravitational force. My job, it is clear, does not matter that much, but the shift of my life could be important. The meaning in the stillness is more important to understand if I have room to listen to it. I decide to take a break from working. It’s not like there are many people here to note that I am not working.
I stop looking at my computer screen and open my phone to glance at a few key social media platforms to see if someone can put words to the emotional environment that seems to have rolled into the whole world like a fog. I look at the daily news, but they just report that everyone is tired and sick, and I already knew that. A mood has descended on everything, and I wish someone would tell me what it is, to describe it with perfect, exacting words. I just want to know what is happening. I want to know what I am feeling and I want to know that I am not the only one feeling it.
I’ve had this feeling before. The silence of the first pandemic shutdown. The feeling before the riots summer of 2020. The feeling the day before the 2020 election. Something always happened, something that never left me — or us— the same.
I call off work early. I cannot do this today. I go home. I feel restless. I think about…