Out of context, you might mistake me for a drug addict.
I’m your average 23 year old American girl. I’m not sure what it means to be young and feel like anything is possible. I think I’m supposed to be having crazy nights, staying up late and drinking wine, making friends, going on dates, hosting dinner parties. I think I’m supposed to sit in coffee shops and people watch until our eyes meet and I get bashful, diverting my gaze, though I wish I didn’t. To be praying in a synagogue and getting drunk on Purim, jumping from one house to the next with a bottle in hand and no cups in sight. I think I’m supposed to be hugging strangers, telling them how pretty they look in a gross bathroom that we pile into so we can check our lipstick. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?
Oh wait, I remember now. I’m supposed to feel alive. Like the summer breeze blowing salty wisps of hair into my mouth as I smile. Like I could book a plane for this evening to who-knows-where because it doesn’t matter. Like the whole world can stop for me. For you. Like we can convince them to keep the place open just a liiiiiittle longer because it’s my birthday and it’s really a miracle we’re all reunited and who knows when we’ll be together again. No, I don’t want to schedule my next dentist appointment because maybe I’ll be in grad school in Israel or on a motor scooter in Thailand or learning to make wine in Argentina. Yeah, things are really up in the air right now. Why don’t we check back in 6 months?
I remember how it felt. I remember when we could see who had bright pink braces. When lipstick didn’t sit on the shelf like an artifact from the ancient “Pre-COVID era.” Oh, you forgot yours? It’s ok, I have 20, borrow mine. While you’re at it, let me fix your hair. We’ll get a cab — maybe the one where strangers jump in — and we’ll head to the jazz club. Or the restaurant. Or anywhere but here because it’s been a year and I’m really so tired of this madness. This reality in which we convince ourselves that if we try hard enough, we can reach through the screen and give them a hug. Like it’s normal to socialize in the snow and I could easily be confusing you with someone else because I can’t tell if it’s you under all those layers or someone with similar eyebrows.
So what happened to 22? Can I get a refund for the past year? I keep calling but they say to wait until the next representative is available, so I’m listening to this annoying hold music on repeat.
I’m waiting for that sweet dose of magic that will make it all go away. Out of context, you might mistake me for a drug addict. But nope. You heard me right.
I’m waiting for that call. For the sea to split. For someone to tell me: We have the special potion that will turn you back into a normal girl. Just close your eyes and click your heels three times. Drink the unknown liquid until you see a world without masks and hand sanitizer. Run until you reach the end of the earth and maybe by then it will be your turn. And don’t get tired or give up hope along the way, because it’s all going to be worth it, trust me.
So I’m still running. I’m still zooming and wearing my darn mask and waiting to be next in line.
Because it’s not a shot I’m waiting for. It’s my whole life.