unleashing alternative futures: covid was (is) practice

19 jan 2024

last summer was hell. this summer is likely to be worse. how? i can’t fully understand or comprehend how. but that’s what they say.

i remember the first time i saw the haze. i was on a train down to new haven for a nibbling’s 1st birthday party. somehow, i’d missed the worst of it over the past few years. one year, i was in italy when the haze came. another time i was in ptown. one other time i was in berlin. my privilege and travel itch had saved me. but this, i saw it. full on.

that day, 30 june 2023 was just the beginning. summer had barely hit and the fires in canada had already broken records. the rest of the summer the fires rolled on and on. the border between the U.S. and canada mattered less and less as the fires heated up. for once, canadians fled into the U.S. what a plot twist.

i remember the first time i realized i had an air quality headache. i remember the first thought i had of not having a kid with my partner because i didn’t want to create another black baby who would not be able to breathe. and i also thought of all the MAGA babies being born left and right. i was sad/mad that they would inherit the world and my kid wouldn’t (is this feeling grace or grief?).

i remember the first time i put my mask on to protect myself from smoke particulates. it hurt my heart more than my lungs. i felt like it had only been a few months of not masking for covid. and now the mask was back because of the air quality.

in a terrible way, i felt grateful for covid. it had been a shitty but useful practice round. i knew how to carry a mask. i had a backup supply already. i knew the sadness of seeing photos of me and my friends masked. i knew the hardness of asking a nibbling, yet again, to pull their mask over their noses. i even knew the strange mix of emotion from sleeping on a plane and waking up to find someone surprised to see that it was possible to sleep with an eye mask, a kn95, and a neck pillow.

covid was practice for this. and for that, i am grateful. now i have space to turn my attention to whatever is next.

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