When sifting through photos to send to my Mom on Mother’s Day, I noticed a trend. The memories captured circulated around doing things and seeing people. A trip to a National Park, a family reunion, Thanksgiving dinner, a day downtown. Very rarely do we record moments of monotony.
Unfortunately, we are living in times of redundancy and repetition – where our normally cherished pastimes are reduced to what is safe for our population to endure. Our day-to-day feels a sigh lacking in spontaneity and variety.
It raises an question. This time is monumental in so many ways, streets empty, businesses shuttered, wardrobe changed – but it all falls to a grouped existence. Where are people, and how have we changed as a society?
When considering past “tectonic shifts” in the U.S., we have a moment-in-time freeze. The “where were you when…” question can be completed with any number of events that elicit specific flashbacks to what we were doing and our gut-check responses.
The longevity of this period is a rolling boil. We acclimate rather than react. Our emotions are bundled and repackaged.
It doesn’t give as much room to how individuals are remembering this time. When we look back, we might remember working at home, wearing masks, and lonely cities. We can easily observe the changes in our society, but how will we remember the changes in ourselves? In our relationships?
Cataloging change across stretches of time necessitates diligence, as incremental adjustments are hard to see and easier to deny. Our milestones over the months of quarantine are remembered differently because they will feel different. With proximity as a luxury, we hand-pick moments between the grey everyday to differentiate our experiences.
The days I notice an especially beautiful flower, unique afternoon light, or a doleful violinist playing on the corner demands more of my attention. They receive star-billing in my quarantine memories. Before, in “normal” times, I doubt they would earn that merit.
An unexpected benefit of quarantine has been redefining what is remarkable and what is “worth” remembering. The value of my memories has not diminished, though the currency adjustment of memories flowing throughout our world has borne corrections.
We get to remember more by experiencing less. And for that, I am grateful.