I did not think the future would begin with drive-in theaters, tennis, and landscaping. But our governor says these are the first steps towards reopening society this summer. And we will return to a very different world, one cleaved into a before and an after.

Although I know better, an idiot part of my brain still expects this pandemic to end neatly, like stepping outside after a thunderstorm. I can’t help but picture us standing in the streets as the skies clear, sweeping away the fallen branches and nodding at our neighbors. We’ll say, “Wasn’t that strange?” This is the deranged logic of grief, like bargaining with a stone. The fact is that we will live very differently for months and possibly years: six feet apart from one another, our mouths veiled and hackles up. Society will turn even more inward.

The triggers for fear are largely universal: loud noises, fast-moving objects, and the sudden loss of orientation. The loss of orientation has been sudden this year. We’re hardwired to fight or run. I tend to flee through distraction. My fantasies about living in the desert might be another form of flight. The only workable option is reinvention, a balancing act between rethinking how to live and remembering that what we’re living through is absolutely unacceptable and should have been prevented.