As above, so below

“Writing a letter to one’s Future Self is an incredible act of faith.” That’s how I concluded the monthly letter I wrote to myself last November, before J and I had an at-home pandemic feast for Thanksgiving. This time last year, I’d ordered a turkey breast and an assortment of sides but didn’t know what the future would hold: what would Thanksgiving 2021 look like?

This Thanksgiving will look a lot like last Thanksgiving: I’ve already placed the same catering order as last year, and J and I will eat at home, just the two of us. But November 2021 looks different from November 2020 in many ways.

This year I’m teaching in full face-to-face classrooms rather than lecturing to a handful of students in the room and even more faces projected on a screen. I see my (masked) colleagues in the halls and neighboring classrooms rather than feeling like I’m the only faculty member on campus. I’ve returned to shopping at Trader Joe’s, and J and I have been to museums and the movies.

This time last year, vaccines were a hope on the horizon; this year, both J and I are fully vaccinated and boosted, a fact that makes us more comfortable having lunch at our local pub, given the high vaccination rates in our area.

Life hasn’t returned to the “normal” of the Before Times, but we’re learning how to create our own normal. What we haven’t learned, however, is how to predict the future. What will Christmas and the New Year look like, and will there be a winter surge in COVID cases? How long will we continue to mask, and will my girlfriends and I be comfortable meeting in-person for my birthday in January?

I don’t know: the pandemic has taught me time and again not to make predictions. But as an act of faith, I will write monthly letters to my Future Self in the hope I’ll still be around and healthy enough to read them this time next year.