I Was Euphoric in June. Look Where We Are Now.

by on September 8, 2021 · 4 comments

in Health

By Luke Winkie / New York Times / September 3, 2021

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.

I had never felt so exhausted in my life. Sundays in the early summer of 2021 were reserved for feeble recovery and the ominous threat of next week’s overflowing schedule. Could I get a pandemic-delayed surgery on Thursday and make it to the Rockaways on Saturday? Is it possible to attend three parties in four hours? These were the pertinent questions of the era.

But then came the Delta variant, alongside a petri dish of other foreboding Greek letters, and once again the nation is on borrowed time. The dizzy glee that defined those early days of sunshine, as all of my friends feasted on triumph, transformed into an arcane moral calculus.

I ignored all of the Delta headlines at first, simply because it seemed sacrilegious to harsh the indelible vibes of June and July. When it became clear that the numbers were not going to come down — when questions about vaccine efficacy breached into the national conversation — a familiar dark ambiguity washed over our apartment. Inscrutable questions of transmission, mutation and breakthrough infections hovered around every social appointment.

Our long-gestating Italy trip, originally scheduled for last spring, has returned to its yearlong holding pattern. We’ll be packing our vaccination cards in November when we travel to a Miami wedding that’s enforcing strict inoculation requirements. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I am so tired of not knowing if I’m doing the right thing.

By August, I was attempting to indulge in as much corporeality as possible before any shutdowns rolled back into place. I’m still going out, I’m still seeing my friends, and I continue to agonize over the moral responsibilities concerning a virus that seems to change in nature with each passing day. Perhaps that is the lasting imprint the pandemic will leave on our brain chemistry: this unshakable feeling that the simple pleasure of drinking inside a bar is too good to be true.

In April 2020, I wrote about watching old sports broadcasts on my laptop while civilization stood still. It was easy to envy the fans in the bleachers who were completely unburdened by all the dread we’d accumulated during the pandemic. I relished the idea of joining them after Covid finally retired to the history books — to banish the misery with gusto and pride. I think we’re all becoming accustomed to the truth that escaping from a pandemic was never going to be so simple. The restoration is going to happen in fits and starts, with a permeating sense of unease. When will I stop waiting for the other shoe to drop? Ideally someday in the far-off future when our lives have fully returned to normal, without anyone realizing it.

Until then, I’ll always be grateful for the summer of 2021 and its wondrous preview of what lies ahead.

Luke Winkie is the son of Susan and Mark Winkie of Ocean Beach who lives 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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks September 8, 2021 at 12:21 pm

My list of the dead from Covid grew by another yesterday to 17. My young mechanic neighbor friend’s uncle died in five days after losing smell/taste & having a headache and was diagnosed with Delta and into a hospital quarantine bed in Spokane. Two days later double pneumonia, the next day blood clots, the day after that put on a ventilator and rushed downstairs to ICU and died in the elevator. He & his company installed the carpet-grade Astroturf in my music room and front room years ago. RIP Mikie.

As I’ve said before, the next property north is my retired biologist neighbor, and my longest friend the ex-high school biology teacher is saying Hawai’i is falling apart and the governor is asking tourists to STAY AWAY. There’s been no running out the door partying or vacations for any of us because we all have some level of a science education in our backgrounds. This article is more about foolish humans than anything else…

Health officials “keeping a very close eye” on COVID-19 Mu variant



Geoff Page September 8, 2021 at 1:29 pm

That’s a shame, seal, you’ve had some direct personal experiences with this that I and others are lucky enough no to have had. Sorry to hear about your friend.


Chris September 8, 2021 at 4:14 pm

I actually read this article in the NYTs and had no idea of any OB connections. It’s really hard to imagine how the 20 something year old me would handle this pandemic. The now 60 year old me can’t find anything that would appeal to me less than to even try to hit 3 parties in 4 hours without the pandemic. But I agree with his sentiment though about June being the time go finally go back to “normal” and enjoy the things. We all (or most anyway) naively believed we were at the tail end of this thing and had about two months of care free bliss. Now we face the harsh possibility we may never get rid this. Very sorry to see about your losses Seal.


sealintheSelkirks September 8, 2021 at 9:38 pm

Yeah Geoff, he was a good guy. I saw DJ the neighbor nephew again tonight for a few minutes and he’s just blown, isn’t dealing well with it but who could? Can’t believe this happened because he’s the only one of the brothers that kept his act together (including DJs father), raised a family ran a business stayed married… Healthy active lifestyle, ate well, in shape (have to be laying carpet), and the only part of the large extended family that is fully vaccinated is his…

There are old friends that are in my book who had died of Covid and I didn’t find out until after it published. People that were alive & kicking in my memory weren’t around anymore because they died while I was finishing and getting it published. Weird how it felt in my head.

But I know a native woman from the Spokane Rez that lost four of her immediately family last year. She was in shell shock last we talked.That’s the most I’ve heard about, but the way Delta is screaming through the population….oh my.

Random chaos rules this dimension because the dice has no memory of the last roll, so the Chinese curse ‘may you live in interesting times’ continues with another bat virus. Fruit bat and a 75% death rate this time:

Authorities race to contain deadly Nipah virus outbreak in India


New Delhi — Authorities in India’s southern Kerala state are racing to contain an outbreak of the Nipah virus. The virus, which is not related to the coronavirus behind the current global pandemic and is far more deadly, killed a 12-year-old boy in Kerala over the weekend, prompting stepped-up efforts to trace his contacts. New infections have been confirmed.
Chris, we’re in the 2nd Wave of it, the virulent mutations that comes after the initial infection which is almost extinct now. If this continues true to 1918 pandemic, next year there will be a 3rd Wave with even more mutations. Population is 8x bigger, though, which means faster turnover of generational adaptive growth. With the majority of our world population isn’t vaxxed. Uh-oh.



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