Not everyone is optimistic about the reopening

Despite positive vibes, despair prevails for some of us


Now that California is opening back up with this massive wave of optimism, it almost seems as though life as we knew it just might return.

On Facebook, my friends who are in bands or DJ or do standup are finally getting out on the road again. Performers keep adding new dates and cities to tours that start this summer. Some are already underway. And major festivals scheduled for 2022 are selling out almost as soon as they’re announced.

The return to live performances will surely be a massive boom for everyone who works in the entertainment industry, from roadies to bartenders to bouncers and sound technicians.

My neighbor down the street is a DJ/promoter. For the past weeks, whenever he walks his dog past my house, he’s all smiles, or on the phone arranging more events. It’s like he’s a different person.

I watched Colbert the other day and saw that TV audiences are back. And of course, all the corporate advertisements want you to know they care by encouraging you to cherish being together again, and when you do, don’t forget to use their products.

My friend who works at the main library told me that whenever someone walks in, they applaud.

Everyone is making up for lost time. But even with all this positive energy, the post-COVID reality just fills me with more dread.

I’m still reeling from the past 16 months. It’s not easy being hopeful when your future is still uncertain.

Work is still a gut-twisting mystery. The taxi business wasn’t great before the pandemic. What’s it going to be like after? Oh sure, right now Uber and Lyft can’t supply enough drivers and because they’re gouging passengers with surge pricing, some people are taking taxis again. Come July, though, the state of California will start requiring that EDD recipients prove they are actively searching for work. When that gravy train pulls into the station, all the drivers will be back on the road…

There’s also the possibly that I’m going senile.

It started around last November. Since then, I haven’t been able to concentrate or think clearly.

I’m usually a little depressed around the holidays, so at first, I didn’t really worry. But as winter progressed, the cloud around my head grew denser. For six months now, I’ve been in this perpetual brain fog. There are times when my head feels totally empty.

Based on what I’ve read, these symptoms are most likely a result of the pandemic, being stuck at home, not working or socializing, etc. etc.

Still, I’m not the only one feeling down. I have several friends in a similar state of mind. Through personal conversations and on social media, they’re expressing a sense of despair and anguish. Lots of drinking. Smoking. Anything to try to fill the void. All of which is made even worse by the positive vibes.

My wife has been struggling too, but she’s better at fighting it off. She’s also quick to point out that, compared to the horrible consequences of COVID-19, complaining about insomnia is somewhat inappropriate.

Over 3.8 million people have died worldwide. Families were destroyed. Lives ruined. People lost their businesses. With all this tragedy, who’s going to feel sorry for someone who’s working from home and feeling isolated?

Even the struggle of parenting during the pandemic doesn’t get you much sympathy these days, though lockdowns completely derailed our child’s development. Last summer, instead of being stuck inside a cramped apartment, our daughter was supposed to be attending day camps around the Bay Area. In the fall, she was going to start preschool. It was all planned out.

Now, because of all the COVID restrictions, we constantly worry about the potential consequences they might have on our child. In the beginning, there were signs of regression. It was painful to explain to her why life had changed, why she couldn’t go to the playground anymore, why other parents herded their kids away from her in stores.

As bad as that was then, it’s no less painful now to see how accustomed she has become to the new reality. The other day she got some doll accessories, and the package included a Barbie face mask.

Who knows? Perhaps all this stuff may just pass over her like it was just another part of what you experience in the world. Children are very resilient. Adults… not so much. Which is why we go to concerts and festivals.

Kelly Dessaint is a San Francisco taxi driver, currently on hiatus. He is the author of the novel “A Masque of Infamy” and a zine series “Behind the Wheel,” which was recently collected into a paperback omnibus, available through major book outlets or directly from his blog: His column appears every other week in the Examiner.