Fear is a constant, unwelcome companion. Fear of touch. Fear of breath. Fear of the invisible. Fear of friends, except on a screen. Social distancing doesn’t make sense – being social means being together. I crave the time when we can be together again.
Having been isolated for more than tow months and with her images from home, Betsy seems to explore the vastness of her space while experiencing Social Distancing and isolation at the same time the unavoidable impact in the environment due to the COVID -19 pandemic. Betsy also shares her journal during Social Distancing with us:
Excerpts from my coronavirus journal
Sunday, April 5
It’s now a month since I had a normal Sunday, on March 8th…but I wasn’t feeling well then. I had had a headache since the day before, after I returning from the Gullah Geechee conference the previous Wednesday. Anyhow, the next day I was sick with fever and a cough – bad flu symptoms for 2 days, stayed in bed, couldn’t eat. At that time I felt sure I had the coronavirus but somehow I didn’t feel the gravity of that possibility.
(note: I had the test and it came back negative).
Monday, April 6 – 10:39 AM
A beautiful morning, sunny and warm but not hot. Birds singing, very little traffic. But fear is pervasive. Fear of the grocery store!! I hate being afraid of the groceries but now I just saw a video saying you should wipe down everything you buy. Is the virus lurking in the fridge, on the shelves? Should I go back and wipe everything? AARGH!!!
Yesterday Steve’s brother called this a “reckoning” and I reckon he’s right. Also I read, “Don’t try to be happy, just try to learn.” OK then…
Wednesday, April 8 – 3:57 PM
I’m a generally positive person, maybe naively so sometimes, but this has crushed my spirit a bit. This is global, it is bad and it is having an especially terrible impact on people other than me – poor and working-class people, people of color, people with kids and not one to take care of them. I’m incredibly lucky but it’s a sorrowful feeling nevertheless. Sorrow for humanity and our country in the grip of a madman. Got to get outside now and work in the garden…
Thursday, April 9 – 9:55 PM
Today the okra sprouted in my little veg. garden. Such cute sprouts!
Monday, April 13 – 10:48 AM
Wow – days with no journal entries – how did that happen? One day melts into the next, so remembering is hard, but all the more reason to write things down. As of right now we have no electricity! There was a scary thunderstorm this morning and between 4:15 AM when I got up to take Bunnie out and 8:00 when we got up, electricity went off.
Hearing more and more about class/racial disparities w/regard to social distancing – not possible when you and your 5 children are sleeping on a friend’s livingroom floor (actual story in the Times today.)
Saturday, April 18
Haven’t written since Monday – loss of electricity was a mind-blower that sent me into a more surreal place than before, if that was possible. I actually felt disconnected a bit from the ability to function – couldn’t sleep. But never mind – 48 hours w/out electricity and social isolation, working from home and getting paid for it – our lives could be so much worse!
Yesterday was Steve’s 65th birthday. I made a cake and we sang HB to him on Face Time w/Jim and Erica and then w/Britt and Alejandro. So we actually celebrated w/more people than we would have under ordinary circumstances, when I would have taken him to dinner w/just the two of us. So in a strange way social distancing has provided more opportunities to “see” people albeit virtually.
Monday, April 20 – 7:50 PM
I just went out to empty the trash and saw my neighbor – he didn’t look well and he told me he has COPD – he feels short of breath. Oh God – I feel like he has the virus – a middle-aged black man who goes to work every day. Such a good man – he says his wife is OK – but I feel caught in the horrible inequality of our time.
Tuesday, April 21 (had to think about the actual date)
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – 1970 – yeah! I remember being at Antioch College for the first Earth Day and hearing Gary Snyder read his poems. Aah – what a lovely memory! Looking at CNN while writing this – headline: “Children Say Goodbye to Father Over Phone.” Damn.
Thursday, April 23 – 9:05 PM
About to watch Episode 11, Season 3 of Babylon Berlin – v. atmospheric, love listening to the German, and the rise of the Nazi party resonates as an all too relevant theme.
Still a beautiful, cool, rainy spring w/exception of a few very hot days. Okra put out its second leaf. A couple of good-looking squash plants grew up out of the compost so I planted them in a bed.
Monday, April 27 – 7:28 PM
I went grocery shopping again today. I used to enjoy it but now it’s so fraught with fear and germs. I yearn for a more carefree time. But I will say that going to Sierra Leone (in January) put it in some kind of perspective even before the pandemic. Seeing how you can survive with so little.
Steve’s playing the guitar. Really the only music I listen to, and so beautiful. Dogs – W.T.P. (Winnie the Pooh) stretched out on the floor – Bunnie saying, “Where’s dinner?” It’s very domestic right now and the birds are calling to each other:
Wren 1 – “We missed you, we missed you, we missed you.” Wren 2 – “Tuweet, tuweet, tuweet.”
Monday, May 4 – Sometime after 10:00 PM. Two months since the quarantine began
The last two days have been hard emotionally – clashes of wills w/me and Steve, sadness, extreme sadness. I thought yesterday for the first time that there are friends in other states whom we may never see again – when can we travel? We take so much for granted.
Thursday, May 7 – 10:00 PM
I’m about 100 pages from the end of Frederick Douglass’s biography. At a gathering for his 71st birthday on 2/28/1888, he said, “I never had a birthday. We (slaves) were born at times – harvest times, watermelon times, generally hard times.”
And, “Perhaps there is too much past. But remember that all the present rests on the past. Remember is as good a word as forget.”
Monday, May 11 – 9:36 PM
Listening/not listening to the news. Rachel Maddow comparing Nixon’s Supreme Court case about the Watergate tapes to the case before the court tomorrow re Trump’s taxes. “No one is above the law!” Let’s hope not!
Today the scarlet runner beans are average 4” tall – wow! Hope they thrive and survive the heat that is to come!
Tuesday, May 12 – 9:30 PM
Chris Cuomo CNN program – discussing shooting of black man in Brunswick, GA. Hard to watch – does nothing ever change? On Rachel Maddow – Elizabeth Warren warning of new spike of coronavirus – hard to do anything w/out national leadership…20 million people lost employment last month – 20 million lost health insurance.
Today my Dad would be 101 years old. Happy Birthday, Daddy!
Thursday, May 14 – 9:15 PM
Anderson Cooper show discussing when sports will get back to normal. NOBODY KNOWS!!
Monday, May 23 – Memorial Day
I guess I’ve taken a break from my journal – who knows why? I think of the journal my great-great-grandfather, Colonel Gibson kept meticulously – he recorded the weather every day.
This is a strange phase of the pandemic, with things opening up – but not at the same rate everywhere. We had Britt and Alexandro over for dinner – sat on the porch and extended the table so that we could sit 6’ apart. It was wonderful to see their sweet faces in person, yet it felt very odd and not quite right. Was it the right thing to do? After almost 3 months in quarantine? That’s the thing – we don’t know. Nobody does. But how good to have company…
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