Where were you when the world came to a screeching halt?
I remember March 11, 2020, very vividly. I was living with my grandfather at the time; we had just had dinner, and were settling in to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder play and contemplating calling his brother and sister over to come play cards.
But just as we were talking about the Thunder’s playoff chances, I realized the game hadn’t started. It was beyond time for tipoff, but…nothing was happening. Somehow, I felt the moment was instantly historic.
The coronavirus we’ve all come to know as COVID-19 had made its way to Oklahoma, and the United States stopped on a dime.
The next day, working in a newspaper after an event like that was…well, like in the movies. Lots of phone calls, shouts across the newsroom, and buckets of sanitizer. It was then that it was decided that we go home too.
I remember laughing, thinking that since it was already spring break, we were getting one too. Little did I know, we wouldn’t return to our offices until May.
You all know the rest of the story. Lockdowns, reopening in phases, mask mandates, the return of sports, games with limited fans, games with no fans, games not happening hours before start times, games being picked up at the drop of a hat…the list goes on and on.
So for this year’s spring break, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of reflection. My social media memories popping up over the last two weeks have been crazy reminders of the unprecedented 374 days and counting we have all been through together.
I won’t lie, things looked very dark for a very long time. A pandemic depression developed for a lot of people, and became just as serious as the illness that caused it. I remember the days that I had it, weak and isolated, that I wasn’t sure if I’d see life be what it used to be again.
Thankfully, numbers continue to decline, signaling the beginning of the end. Vaccinations are increasing at an amazing rate, especially here in Oklahoma. Our sports at all levels are back, which feels like a piece of ourselves has returned. And life feels a little more and more like itself again.
We shouldn’t let up, and there’s still a journey ahead of us. But as more of our lives return to us, I think we’re going to relish in them a little bit more. I know I am, which is why I’ve enjoyed getting to still go to games and report on what’s going on with our area student-athletes and the memorable moments they’re creating.
Plus, the Thunder are tanking in the most entertaining way; Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is drawing near, and I’m already knee-deep in pure joy watching the NCAA Tournament — despite when and how my bracket will eventually get busted.
I’m basking in it all, and glad to see we’re finally getting the train back on the tracks one year later.
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.