The New Normal

Uncredited image from the Office of Health Equity, State of Colorado

My pandemic months were normalized by my spartan wardrobe.

I rotated the same three pants over many months—gray then navy and now black—and alternated colored tops for my zoom lectures and staff meetings.

Getting dressed was mindless.

And normal.

Now—as the mercury rises in our little berg—I rescue a pair of shorts buried last year in a drawer and whisper a wee prayer of thanks: they still fit.

We can sip a soda outside and listen to the bluebirds squawk and finches trill.

The old normal.

I had the chance to meet up with a girlfriend in person and outside, on her journey to the Pacific Northwest.

We wore masks and earrings—jewelry is one thing I haven’t bothered with all year—and she told me how her golden retriever offered another heartbeat in her house, saving her from loneliness.

Her pooch passed away just before her trip, the signal of a milestone in a year of milestones.

Her new normal will continue when she returns home and welcomes a pup into her life.

Another friend reports she kept her friendships humming.

She shares meals with a pal: each of them cooks enough for two, and then passes along homemade lasagne or chicken for the other.

One of our daughters and her beau spent much of lockdown learning how to teach English to non-English-speaking children.

They overlapped taking online courses and exams, while researching countries keen on hiring English language teachers.

They decided on Thailand—a country they had scouted while traveling in Asia.

After several months of investigating life in the East, contacting schools, getting shots, reserving airline seats, paying for visas and placing their belongings in storage, they arrived in Bangkok where they spent two weeks in quarantine, giving them time to contact local schools.

And within the month, each of them had a job offer.

Another milestone and a new normal.

Reading through the headlines I see plentiful stories that beg for a return to normal.

I look at my family, friends and neighbors and see that change is the new normal.

We’re not returning.

We’re not going back.

We’re headed for the next mile and the next adventure.

That’s the new normal.

3 May 2021

Dedicated to my daughters, and to all my relatives

With acknowledgement and gratitude to the Native peoples on whose land I live, write and teach: the Multnomah, the Clackamas, and the denizens of all Indigenous nations




















About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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