Week Fourteen: Life in the grips of the Coronavirus

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Ah, and look at that, we are in Week Fourteen of the Quar, brought on by a global pandemic, this MF-ing Coronavirus. In this past week, as the protests continue to roar, as police continue to shoot Black men dead—as in the case of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta—, as still yet unexplained bodies of Black men hanging from trees are raising questions, raising fear, raising terrible memories of a period of time when Black women and men were lynched in such a fashion, I am watching it all from a couch, no longer in my home in Stuytown, but now on the outskirts of the city, the city I love so much, the city I came of age in, the city I am slowly losing faith in.

Despite the calming and exacting presence of Governor Cuomo, who speaks every day, now wearing a bracelet on his left wrist that we get a glimpse of on occasion, hopeful that the data he is seeing remains positive, the praise he bestows on New Yorkers—and that includes all of us in New York State—is sincere and heartfelt, acknowledging the work we’ve been doing to stay ahead of COVID, acknowledging how disproportionately affected our Black and Brown community have been by COVID, and now, in Week Fourteen, showing us the data, broken down into communities, that sobering reminder to us how deadly this virus has been.

My attention is laser focused on Massachusetts, in particular Middlesex County, which has been hit hard by COVID. It is the county The Teenager attends school. In the middle of last week, we learned that her school will be open in the Fall, that the students are expected to move into their dorms at a designated week in August, and will attend classes through Thanksgiving, switching to remote learning for December, and have their break through January.  I am seized with anxiety about this plan. This is life in the pandemic, looking forward, looking for workaround, looking for something that looks like a solution. For me, it is tinged with the expected concerns, for her safety.

I have spent most of the Quar in isolation, preferring for The Teenager to shelter in safety in a suburban town with her boyfriend and his generous parents, far far away from where I am, pancaked in an apartment building, where I am forced to use shared spaces with hundreds of people who live in the same structure I do: we share elevators and laundry rooms and disposal bins. I’ve opted to be alone, to be swimming inside my head, the further stress of becoming unemployed during the sixth week of the Coronavirus, now one of forty million, (Further fucked as I am in my fifties, and ageism is a beast, jobs I would have gotten in a blink in my forties not responding at all to my well-crafted emails for an interview), instead of enjoying her daily presence, for the sake of her safety.

With The Teenager expected at school, to pursue her Junior year, while the pandemic rages, I am, as you can imagine, filled with frown lines. Still, the data in Middlesex County, hit the way we were here in the Epicenter of the Coronavirus, is as encouraging as Cuomo’s numbers suggest for us New Yorkers.

And so, while I sit here on the outskirts of it all, for a few more weeks, I look to the rest of the weeks, when I return home, when my daughter does as well, when I can hold her in my arms, despite her being much taller than I am, and know that we are together, finally, after so many months of being separated, for the greater good.

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