We have been immensely privileged to be able to enjoy open spaces and forest walks in these complicated times, but as the weather warms and more people are out, we have to find new, less traveled routes. Our masks are not enough when others do not wear them, nor honor the distancing that keeps us safe.
We have been spared the harsh nightmares that others are living through with COVID-19, but there is no escaping the new reality. The invisibility of the enemy and the uncertainty of the future are constant undercurrents.
With friends and family scattered across the globe, many in places where the virus has been devastating, we are extremely lucky to have had our little bubble of isolation in Tennessee. We have been sharing our quarantine with on of our sons and his family -only ten minutes from us – and were able to hold our new granddaughter as soon as she got home. (Thankful for the Knoxville hospital’s careful protocols!) Our Click List online shopping has been working well, except for the lack of bleach and other disinfectant products. We open the trunk, they load our groceries, we shut the trunk. No contact. The little sanitizer we have left stays in the car for gas pumps and drive through pickups.
Nevertheless, there is always a hovering nervousness, a fear of unwitting contamination. Did we wipe down every inch of packaging? Will a slip in the wiping of that bag of frozen peas come back to haunt us? Apparently, the virus can survive 6 months in a freezer! We haven’t seen our usual mailman in a while. What if he sneezed or coughed on our mail? Did we get too close to our neighbors while talking in the yard? Unlike us, several still go to their workplaces. Considering that the active virus has been found even on particles of air pollution, everything becomes suspect. I don’t walk around fearful, but at the back of my mind is the ever present possibility of inadvertent exposure to someone or something or some surface where the demon virus hides in wait. Nothing is taken for granted. No guarantees.
In the back of my head, a thousand future scenarios play out. I imagine a post-recovery period, looking back at the Before, considering the After. There is a new line drawn in the sand. Who will not be there? What businesses will be gone? How will architecture prepare for future pandemics? What new systems will be in place?
And what will be too quickly forgotten?