It hasn’t even been a week since my first Coronavirus post, and in that time, I feel like I’ve lived ten lifetimes. I am keeping this diary as a record of what is happening, and also because I scarcely believe what is happening myself. Maybe if I write it down it will start to feel real.
It wasn’t long ago that Jeremy and I were driving back from a stock up shopping run at Target. It was a beautiful day and life was so, so normal. But I had this gut feeling that this was the last good day. I remember telling Jeremy that we should enjoy this day, because, just like we all might’ve felt on September 10th, if we were clairvoyant, there was this sense that whatever normal felt like, we’d seen the last of it for a long time.
Since Friday, the schools closed, nominally, for a week. Then the governor over a succession of days, closed not only the schools, the theaters, and all large public gatherings, but all the stores, all the gyms, any place people might gather. We went from no gatherings below 250 to 100 to 50 to 10. As the week has progressed, our lives have telescoped inwards until there is very little left of it. There is a rhythm to life in our little village. Spring means Jumping Jacks opens. There are concerts at the Village Green. Collins Park is always hopping. For entertainment, there is the little one-screen movie theater, or Proctors theater in Schenectady. When the weather warms up, the drive ins open. After a long, isolating winter, people start flocking together, enjoying the warm weather. None of that can happen right now.
What can we do? We can stay in the house. Homeschool our bewildered children. Take a walk, but only with our immediate family. With the news constantly admonishing social distancing, saying we should all assume we have Coronavirus until further notice, no one says hello anymore. There’s a wariness when others approach. The dogs are confused. What is the world where the people never leave the house, and where strangers don’t stop or acknowledge them? Today we walked the dogs around the block. Neighbors were out, so I waved and said hello. The woman hid behind her glass screen door and looked spooked by my greeting. Restaurants that were once thriving and busy can only do takeout now. But so can bars. New York changed its laws to allow take out booze. Busy owners are lost. No one had any time to prepare for all these changes. They’ve swept us up and we just have to figure it out. Teachers are scrambling to put lessons together for students they have no idea when they’ll see next. And business owners have to create a new business model and pivot, for who knows how long, praying a community where few are working supports them enough to survive.
There are no words.
And this, the experts say, is just the beginning. This is the pre-emptive shit. We haven’t even seen the shitstorm on the horizon.
The news makes it sound like we’re all just ticking time bombs, and in a week or two, those of us who lost the viral lottery are suddenly going to start showing symptoms. In the meantime, what can we do? Not take ibuprofen, or elderberry, or gargle hot water, because none of it works. You’re either going to be okay or you’re not, and may the odds (and your immune system) be ever in your favor.
I am not enjoying this plot twist that has turned my life into bad YA apocalyptic fiction–that’s all take out restaurants and toilet paper shortages? Come on! Who wrote this shit?
Anyway, people are doing the best they can to bolster each other. Since our only entertainment these days is walking or driving around the neighborhood, a local elementary school PTA suggested we should have a neighborhood rainbow hunt, so parents can take their kids out for a scavenger hunt. God knows I have enough craft supplies here to keep me busy for the duration of our quarantine and then some, so I whipped this little guy up.
He’s the rainbowiest rainbow gnome that ever rainbowed.
I wish I could do more. I know so many people are just completely at the end of their tether. But somehow art makes everything better. We’re all turning to it in this time of great uncertainty. I spent the whole day embroidering today, trying to settle myself. When I’m finished, I’ll post a picture. For now it’s a work in progress.