I’ve lived near the Micronesia Mall my entire life. This meant that I am always a less than two minute drive to the nearest grocery store. I’ve always liked shopping at night, since high school. Sometimes, I’d go with a friend or my sister to the store if I really wanted something in the middle of the night. I like it. It’s calmer. It’s quiet. Much less hurried than if I were to go during the after work rush.
Tonight was no different, especially since I now wait until baby goes to sleep to shop at Pay-less.
But it was different.
It was 930 PM as I drove through the dark Mall parking lot, with the gate to the parking garage closed. Stalls were emptier than usual. The lights that usually illuminate the front of the mall, where people wait for their rides, were turned off as well.
Outside the store were two people in masks and as I walked in, I heard them say to each other “last customer”. I’ve never seen this store closed. When I needed toothpaste at 10pm, they weren’t closed. When I was baking with my best friend at 12am, they weren’t closed. When I wanted a snack because I couldn’t sleep at 2am, they weren’t closed. But tonight as I walked out with my full basket of WIC food, I watched as they locked up and blocked off the entrance with carts.
It was 10pm.
They were closed.
It was so foreign and as the masked door person told me to be safe, I wanted to break down and cry. We’re living in scary times, aren’t we? The kind you read about in your history books. The kind you asked your grandparents about. The kind you watch documentaries on.
As a momentary pause to my usual stress and anxiety, I began to think about this and consider that decades from now that’s what we’ll be doing. One day, if my own kid has kids they might ask me about it.
“What was it like grandma?” they’ll ask, as I remember the empty shelves from panic buying. The hours spent scrolling Instagram, watching the numbers change. The irritation from seeing pictures of people congregating at the beach. The nights I would stare at my baby, making sure she seemed healthy and breathed fine. The moments I fear letting my parents hold her in our own home, in the event one of us could be carrying.
This partially invisible disease.
I hope we never forget. Actually, I’m sure we’ll never forget. When all of this is over. Not if. This will be over. It’s unclear when.
But I think of the time these terrors will become a distant past. When having a party will no longer be a fear. When breathing air near strangers wouldn’t be a death wish. When people will be able to hug their parents again. These moments that will surely be taken for granted in the future.
It’s bizarre to think with confidence that one day these words will come to pass. It will be strange to know that people I know will be part of the count of millions of people who were affected by the disease. In the history books. In the documentaries.
It’s bizarre to me that someone in 50 years could find this post and be able to read an actual story from an actual person who lived during it. Maybe use it in a presentation for school.
I guess this is what they mean when they say, “we’re writing history here.”
Or at least…if we’re not writing it, it’s certainly being written.