COLUMN: Getting back to normal is just a matter of time

During COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of time has often become irrelevant

In the first season of HBO’s True Detective, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, tells detectives – who are working to solve a decades-old murder case – that “time is a flat circle.”

“Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again,” he says.

It’s arguably McConaughey’s most memorable line from the dark, police drama, and has been oft-repeated, meme’d on the internet time and again, perhaps more as a result of the actor’s self-assured delivery than because it provides any real wisdom.

Nevertheless, I’ve found logic in it lately, as we all begin to stumble out of the darkness that is COVID-19 quarantine and emerge from hibernation to re-enter the world, throwing open the shades triumphantly even if we’re still not quite sure what day it is.

Perhaps it’s because I have found myself with free time on my hands, but the days have somehow felt like they’re moving both fast and slow at once, in the same way that a microwaved convenience-store burrito can be cold but somehow still burn your tongue.

Maybe time is even going backwards. Who knows?

Someone mentioned to me earlier this week that, by the end of this month – it’s June now, for those scoring at home – we’ll be halfway through 2020, meaning we have just six months to go before we can turn a page on this hellish year.

It took me by surprise. We’re halfway through? How? It feels like only a few weeks ago that I was using up my remaining 2019 vacation days to go on a vacation with my wife. We went on a plane and everything.

But that was February.

Today is Thursday. What’s tomorrow? December?

Who knows.

The truth is, these last months have all melted together into one long Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

In the before times, I’d wake up just before 7 a.m., get ready for work and be out the door by quarter to eight, arriving at the office a few minutes early to ensure I could snag a much coveted parking spot.

But working from home, I rolled out of bed later and later each day, yet still made it with minutes to spare. When your office is 30 feet from your bedroom, time becomes irrelevant.

Once on the clock, my routine was upended, too. Pre-pandemic, I would never eat cereal at my desk at 2 p.m. or spend my coffee break debating which pair of pyjama pants was best for casual Friday. One day, I showered on my lunch break.

My days off would get a little murky, too, as my early-quarantine goals – which ranged from a pledge to exercise daily or to use my off-time to learn a new skill – were eventually replaced by video games and sitcom binging, for hours on end.

I once stayed up until 4:30 a.m. to watch a Korean League Baseball game. I don’t know why.

The clock has struck midnight on such slothfulness, however, and in the long run, maybe it’s for the best. I leave the house for work now. I have reason again to wear pants.

And at some point, I really am going to get into a daily exercise routine.

Maybe tomorrow. Or by October, at the latest. It’s just a few days away.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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