During our seemingly endless pandemic, I often struggle to find a way to remain upbeat and positive.

The illusion that this nightmare would be over by now haunts me.

The Inn on the Alameda and our town had a brief respite when occupancies were strong for two or three weeks in October, and then, once again, the bottom fell out.

The quarantine had a huge impact, possibly because tourists didn’t know exactly what quarantine meant. If “caught,” would their names appear in their hometown newspaper like a DWI arrest, or would they just receive a fine?

Or did Colorado’s lax COVID-19 restrictions drive our traditional business north, causing us all to fear we might lose “regulars” forever. Thank goodness Santa Fe is a unique, one-in-a-million destination, so I remain hopeful we will pull those tourists back when we reopen for business.

I also realize now the depth of my dependency on social interaction, with both friends and our guests at the inn. The slow burn of this isolation hangs like a ball and chain around my neck, making me think about who I will be when I come out of this.

What will all of us be like? How will hospitality be affected in the long term? When will I feel comfortable staying in some other hotel, not knowing who slept in my bed last night? Do other housekeeping staffs sanitize the rooms as well as the inn?

Another major concern: What will happen to American social culture post-pandemic? Will we return to shaking hands, hugging one another and giving pecks on the cheeks?

When will it be safe to sit or stand next to others, feel trusting enough to lay down our masks and allow people to see what we are truly feeling?

Unfortunately, the current emptiness undermines everything we have worked to create at the inn — a casual and intimate setting on a scale where we can remember who’s who and can ask our guests if they enjoyed our recommendation for dining or day trips.

Fortunately, Santa Fe has a centuries-old history of welcoming travelers, a tri-cultural pattern that has unwoven. But all indications continue to confirm we are a city different than most.

This crazy time should be used not for anger but for personal reflection, both individually and as a community, about how we might improve who we are when the new normal emerges. We can change for the better.

Everyone can, every day.

Hopefully, we can all recognize and correct our inconsiderate social habits, for it is only then that we can appreciate our freedoms and collectively start building back better.

Making it Through is a weekly column by community members on their experiences since the pandemic began. Joe Schepps is the president and co-owner of the Inn on the Alameda and has lived in New Mexico for 50 years.

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