By Luke Winkie
Mr. Winkie is a writer in Brooklyn. He has written for Times Opinion about the bittersweetness of watching old sporting events during the pandemic and why New Yorkers who fled the city in the spring of 2020 should pay a tax before returning.
My girlfriend and I wasted no time this spring. As soon as the Moderna vaccination fever left our bodies in May, we gleefully quadruple-booked every empty weekend left on the calendar. The itinerary swelled beyond precedent. Weddings, birthdays, family reunions and no-occasion rooftop hangs gridlocked into one another, evoking a logistical crisis every evening. I chilled in the cheap seats at Citi Field, sucked in the stale air at the Alamo Drafthouse and drove to both northern and southern Vermont in the span of three weeks. The world was in bloom, and both of us were desperate to witness it firsthand.
In retrospect, maybe we should’ve been more aware of the precarity. Only fools underestimate Covid after our extended stay in hell, especially as the threat of the variants morphed from an irritating paranoia to a very disappointing reality. There will never be another season quite as joyful as the summer of 2021 — my girlfriend and I partied exactly as hard as we promised we would — and yet, here at the beginning of September, I’m feeling frustratingly naive. Those first few postvaccination months turned out to be not the conclusion of the pandemic but a brief, debaucherous respite before yet another deadly wave of the virus. Is it possible to be hoodwinked by a respiratory disease? This is a question I never thought I’d need to ask.
God, I miss that ignorance. Remember the short period of euphoria when the whole nation believed that the pandemic had been defeated for good? Remember how we danced on its grave? You saw the mania everywhere. All of the fantasy vacations — hatched in the dim pits of 2020 — became manifest, and the leisure sector huffed and puffed to catch up. Airlines struggled to find enough pilots to meet the renewed demand, and rental car companies quickly ran out of vehicles. There were reports of a tuxedo rental shortage in Boston, leaving countless groomsmen low on sartorial options now that it was no longer possible to exist exclusively in boxer briefs.
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