Forty-seven days. Gizmo and I alone, trying to fill the emptiness of these days blending into days with constructive endeavors. There’s spurts of rallied production and droughts of motivation. But at least I always make my bed, every morning, to start whatever day I’m about to have.
Forty-seven days. No human touch. The few in-person interactions I have these days are with masks, from behind my own. It’s such a weird dynamic – you never realize how important facial expressions are for effective communication until you don’t have a face anymore. (Particularly when you’re as sarcastic as I am.)
The thing I most look forward to during the week is when I’ve depleted my pantry enough to warrant a trip to the grocery store. I usually go later at night, to outsmart the lines. I’m lucky because there’s a Fairway at the end of my block. But the night-time streets of Manhattan have drastically changed during this – their emptiness as eerie as the few shadowy figures you do find out on them.
It’s an indescribable existence. I’m on videoconferences all day for work, and incredibly grateful that I’m not one of the 30 million who have lost their job. I do talk to friends and family every night on the phone. And the internet meme is absolutely right, I do not have it as bad as the boys who fought on Iwo Jima or landed on Omaha beach.
But it’s still bleak. “Together we are six feet apart.” I guess all I really wish was that instead of trying to shove Orwellian newspeak down my throat and telling me how “easy I have it,” some would just acknowledge that not all of us are sheltering in place with family to catch up with and get to know better.
Some of us are isolated, and alone. And we’re okay, and we’re pushing through it – but our experience through this is not like yours’, and yours’ is not like ours’. I just wish it wasn’t so controversial to admit that.
The hardest part is that there is no foreseeable end. The public policy decisions stopped aligning to the data and science long ago, so no one really knows what metrics the next steps are being based on. All I know is that here, in NYC at least, there aren’t any next steps. That’s a mental fight in itself.
Yet amidst it all, the contrasting beauty that still exists somehow becomes brighter. I’ve long known how fresh flowers can lift a room, and your spirits, even if just slightly. But during times like these, something as simple as weekly fresh flowers can keep us anchored to what’s good in this world…when everything seems so wrong.
The freedom of air running through my hair when I’m riding my bike. The way Gizmo hops up and down in excitement every time I grab the leash to take him on a walk. The rolls of toilet paper and paper towels my neighbors and I leave outside each other’s doors to help one another out. Having nothing else to do but wander empty streets capturing apparitions with my camera.
Texts that bring a smile to your face. Face-timing for hours with someone you’ve never met in person, someone who makes you forget everything that’s going on by reminding you of who you truly are, someone who’s contagious warmth anchors you in the moment.
Even when everything’s as wrong as it these days, everything that’s right resiliently finds a way to remind.