News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

On Thursday, I got a call from our local library, which surprised me a bit.

They’d contacted me as, thanks to the slowly thawing shutdown efforts instituted because of the coronavirus pandemic, the library is finally starting to offer curbside pick-up for books. Just put a book on hold and they’ll call you when it arrives and schedule an appointment for you to swing by and retrieve it.

It’s a great system, but there was one problem. I didn’t recall putting a book on hold any time recently.

And then I remembered. I had put a book on hold. Back in February.

During the “Before” times.

The quarantine efforts in response to COVID-19 have only been in place for about three months now, from mid-March to today, but it seems far, far longer than that.

Anything that happened before our new normal, therefore, seems ancient history. Those events happened in a different world, where we didn’t have to social distance or wear masks or worry about contagious diseases every time we accidentally went down a grocery store aisle the wrong direction. (They were still multi-directional then, actually!)

My co-worker, Sports Editor Brett Fowler, suggested we would have to renumber our dating system, as BC would now stand for “Before Covid.”

It does remind me of all those space opera epics that have new dating systems. “Star Trek” and its decimal-based stardates Kirk rattles off every episode start from the moment when warp drive was developed in canon. “Star Wars” has a pre-Empire and post-Rebellion dating system in place.

Major events are always happening to set up new year-counting: the sun goes out or the Earth explodes and suddenly we have a new Year One.

Thankfully we haven’t reached that point yet (despite feeling at times like we’re living in a dystopian novel written for the Young Adult market), but it continues to feel like everything before about March 17 occurred in another lifetime.

Not even Sept. 11, 2001, felt quite like this. It was definitely a seismic moment, one which would transform our world around us, but it didn’t make the times before that seem so hazy and ill-remembered.

Maybe it will feel different as the world starts to resemble normality again.

As for the library book, I had to sheepishly tell them to go ahead and send it back, as I’d given up on my hold long ago and finally bought a copy on my Kindle when it went on a long-awaited sale.

It was a good book. I just hope I still remember it by the time the sequel comes out, in the glorious Year One of the post-death plague calendar.

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