There Is No “When This Is Over”

We’ve been telling ourselves COVID-19 is a story with an end point. Thanks to the Delta variant, it’s just how we live.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
4 min readAug 2, 2021

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Kid wearing a mask. Good kid.
By the time he’s grown up, this is going to seem pretty normal. Photo by Lucia Macedo on Unsplash

I got shredded in quarantine. It’s not something you’d notice, looking at me; I could still be shoved comfortably into most lockers. I am not “fit” by anyone’s standards but my own. Still, at some point in the past year, I decided to make my body a place worth living. I’d spent a lifetime finding ways to dissociate — drinking, reading, binge-watching, scrolling Twitter until I found some way to hurt my own feelings — and I wanted to get back inside my own skin.

I started working out a lot. I cooked a lot of lunches with cauliflower in them. I felt myself get stronger, my posture get better, my energy slowly approach normal human levels. When all this was over, I told myself, meaning the end of the pandemic, I would have made tangible improvements. When we got back to normal, back to a post-‘rona life of constant, carefree socializing, I’d walk out into the world as a better person. Possibly a hotter person. I would have used this time.

For a few weeks, at the beginning of July, it seemed like it was about to happen. I went back to New York for the first time in over a year. I saw friends, hung out on restaurant porches and rooftop bars. Then…

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.