As I write this, it’s been 108 days since the quarantine started. That’s roughly three and half months of lost time. Offices have been closed. Birthdays have gone uncelebrated, beyond close family. Schools have gone virtual. In the future when we talk about 2020 it should be known as the lost year. With any luck there will be a vaccine ready at the beginning of 2021.

Alas, that deadline isn’t definite and it’s also five more months away. Having the vaccine ready for the beginning of 2021 is optimistic. Not to mention that we could see another wave of COVID-19 come through between now and then – because remember, despite the spikes we are now seeing, this is still the first wave.

Recently, my office announced that no one would be required to return to the office until at least Labor Day. However, if anyone wanted to voluntarily return before then we could do so. Well, I decided it was time to start to adjust to the new normal.

Starting next week, I am going to venture into the world twice a week to begin to find out what my new routine will look like. I decided to do it so that I can slowly ease into it and not have my system shocked when we are required back into the office full time. It feels like sticking your toe into the pool before belly-flopping in.

This past week, I also took a big first step by going down to the Jersey shore with my brother and his family. It was great to have a change of scenery and I always love seeing my two little nuggz (their godmother and I nicknamed the nuggz, or nuggets, because they were so tiny when born). They are three years old, full of energy, and will have melt downs if you try to turn off Paw Patrol on them. At the same time, I feel that I am their cool uncle that they love and want to emulate – one even started wearing a Yankees hat like me.

The trip was also the first time that I was around people for any extended period of time. We would walk on the boardwalk and I was one of the only people wearing a mask. It’s easy to forget sometimes that the mask protects not ourselves, but other people. So, really if few other people were wearing masks should I have even bothered?

It was unsettling to say the least. My friend and I turned around as the boardwalk started to get crowded due to the lack of masks. This is the new normal. Most people wouldn’t have sex without a condom, so just think of your mask as a face condom. For the time being, you should be wearing one anytime you go out, regardless of how many other people are around. It may not be the most comfortable, may dull the sensation a little bit, and trap in some juices, but it’s safer for everyone.

Now, on the eve of my return to the office my anxiety regarding the unknown is going wild. What will our offices look like? How will we interact with people? Is stopping by someone’s desk or office for a quick chat going to be frowned upon? Beyond work, what does dating in a post COVID-19 world look like? It’s been a long and lonely 100 days, even if my forearms are getting super jacked.

There’s a lot of questions that can only be answered once we take the first step. As the world starts to open back up, we have to find out what works for us and where we fit into it. There has to be a new normal that we find.

I am a creature of habit. It’s probably one of my worst character traits. I like to establish and stick to a routine, so now it is time to figure out what that looks like in a post-COVID world (even if we aren’t quite post yet). I might not be ready to belly flop just yet, but you better believe I am going to test the waters with my face condom firmly fastened to my face.

P.S. If you have made it this far, let me just say that hopefully this new normal will also include arresting the cops that killed Breonna Taylor.

Padraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

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