It happens in ordinary conversations. In ordinary texts. It's not necessarily the words that are said or written, but a certain subtle resignation in tone. It permeates the talk between me and my long-time, long-standing friends and I don't ever remember them like this, before last spring.
My peers don't say things they used to, don't sound like they used to — it's as if the wind has been knocked out of their sails in October 2020.
Perhaps it is just adding up to an understanding that the unknown is still very real regarding Covid-19. An unknown that is different from when sheltering in place took place because then it was an immediate rush to remote education, mass unemployment, a demand for foods and paper goods in the stores. First responders and front-line workers as heroes, farewells in conversation that remind to "stay safe and stay well." Now this is an evolved unknown that respects what has come before, but really demonstrates what we still do not know and are yet to find out.
One friend texts me confessing he is not the optimist he once was, and how he needs to take a more truthful, honest look at what is happening business and career-wise. "The times,” he writes, "they are a 'changing' whether or not I like it or agree with it."
Another friend, usually talkative and ebullient, wistfully admits that his chance to travel for a once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity is not possible, and I can detect him wondering when the next opportunity might be without him saying another word.
A third friend concedes to a self-imposed shelter-in-place, only broken up by brief trips to the grocery and drug store as well as the office when no other colleague is there. It is status quo since March.
My husband asks if I am angry or sad or disappointed at these observations and discoveries. I am not.
Like many, I am confused. I am reflective. I am waiting. But I have changed too and don't know what the future Lauren will be compared with the one I thought I knew six months ago.
A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches marketing fundamentals as well as advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology and SUNY Old Westbury.