The New Normal? Image
Illustration by Patrick Daughtery

The New Normal?

By Andres Leon

Every day that I have class, I wake up to the same text from my beautiful partner who I love very dearly and it reads the same every time, “CSULB Reminder: Before coming to campus for an in-person class today, please complete the COVID-19 All Student Pre-Screen in SSO.” It always makes my heart flutter, reminding me that I am loved and never forgotten. Sure, it’s a tad overbearing to get the same text but it’s understandable after spending so long apart from each other.

Coming to class feels like a dance with ebbs and flows. Every time I open a door on campus I don’t feel the need to wash my hands — I only apply hand sanitizer twice after, no big deal.

Walking along the paths of LBSU is always fun now because I commonly end up seeing someone I met over Zoom or social media that’s in the same department as me. The greetings are always awkward and uncomfortable because I have “forgotten how to human,” as the millennials say. I just shook that guy’s hand, should I have gone for the classic fist bump? Elbow even? Most men I see in the bathrooms don’t wash their hands and now I have to apply hand sanitizer for the fifteenth time today.

Don’t get me started on the dreaded hug. What am I supposed to do, reject a hug after months of being deprived of being around people? I probably should but I won’t. That’s why I’m vaccinated, right?

I guess a good thing about this is that I haven’t encountered any physical handouts of papers during class whatsoever which is cool, now my classes are as paperless as my bank statements. I wasn’t a huge fan of carrying around a crinkled syllabus that I would have inevitably looked up on the class Beachboard. Not having to print out assignments in the library at the last minute is cool too because now I can wait until the literal last minute to hit the submit button for any due work.

When I sit in a classroom now I feel safe enough, but can’t help wincing every time someone within arms reach of me sneezes or coughs. Is it the common cold? Is it allergies? Is it just a photic sneeze reflex? Who knows. I’m probably better off not knowing. I’ll wait for the time that my love, LBSU, notifies me that I’ve been exposed in a vague message and leaves me in a state of confusion and panic. Until then I’ll be doing my daily routine of routines, living the new normal.