I want to be mildly annoyed again
just to feel normal
Sometime last week, I watched a YouTube clip of a comedian. He was doing a bit about a mildly annoying delay that may—or may not—have happened to him at an airport. I’m not going to go dig the link out of my viewing history for you, though—it really wasn’t that funny.
I mention it because this weird thing happened to me while I was watching the clip: after being cautious about COVID for so long now, I missed being annoyed about something so trivial.
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Having a daughter with a history of respiratory issues has meant being on high alert about COVID since day one. I felt like a crazy person because I was literally the only one wearing a mask in the supermarket during the first few weeks of the pandemic. In years prior, masks weren’t a totally unusual thing to see here in Sonoma County, California, but their presence usually meant it was fire season. People probably either thought a fire started that they hadn’t heard about yet or I was a crazy person.
Watching the comedian’s bit got me thinking about all the other minor annoyances I miss:
A delayed flight.
Waiting in line in close-ish quarters.
Hanging out maskless in a crowded, noisy bar.
Dealing with a crappy waiter at a restaurant and wondering if I should still leave a tip.
Listening to someone cough (without feeling like they’re going to potentially transmit a deadly virus).
Walking around our neighborhood and not feeling like other people are living, breathing germs to be avoided.
Working in an office with coworkers every once in a while, but don’t get me wrong, I much prefer working remotely these days.
Talking up close to a stranger who doesn’t quite get that I don’t care about what they’re saying because I keep nodding along and saying things like “cool” and “interesting”, even though I don’t think what they’re saying is all that cool or interesting, and I realize that I’ll probably never talk to this person ever again in my life and I think what’s really the point of this anyways?, but I’m not going to be a dick about it because maybe they’re having a tough day and this small interaction is exactly what they need, and actually it’s probably good for me to connect with a random human too so what’s the harm in just going along with it, you know?
It’s not like I haven’t experienced any of those things since my last normal day. I’ve flown places. I’ve gone to restaurants. I’ve done things. The difference is that I miss the days when the stakes didn’t feel so high.
My four-year-old daughter Em was finally able to get her first COVID vaccine shot recently. Despite that, I don’t think there’s any going back to normal. Not really. I’m not even sure what normal means anymore. It’s not only about new variants. Having a toddler with a disability kinda disrupts things. It’s hard to imagine what normal is when Em gets 100% of her food via a tube in her belly, we have to strap her to a stander device so her leg muscles don’t atrophy, and she has a rare form of epilepsy that her doctors aren’t even sure how to treat yet.
There are times when all these difficult things hit me hard and I think how the hell is this my life right now? I know that’s grief showing up unexpectedly. As it does.
I’ve mostly come to terms with my new altered life and do my best to find moments of joy. Like watching Em scream with pure happiness when she watches her favorite Sesame Street episode. Or finally buying a new bass amplifier, after years of not having one, and feeling that familiar feeling of learning a bassline I’ve always wanted to know how to play. Or enjoying a game of cribbage with Allison.
But we all need to appreciate the little annoyances too. It’s okay if you’re frustrated when your kid leaves a dish out, or whatever. Yet you should also try laughing at how unimportant it is. We should be so lucky as to be annoyed by something so innocuous.
As tough as life can seem sometimes, it could always be worse. And really, most of us have a pretty incredible life.
It’s almost annoying.
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