Yet, as I walked around, I was acutely aware that I was also surrounded by other people. People who, like me, find themselves living in an extraordinarily complex, complicated, and scary time.
I began wondering: How have the lives of my friends and neighbors changed since the shelter in place order? What are their biggest fears and biggest hopes? What do they think we will collectively learn from this experience?
When I got home, I couldn’t shake these questions.
So, I asked.
I reached out to friends and neighbors to see if I could interview them. So far, the responses have been remarkable.
Over the last few days, I’ve documented the lives of people I know, and some I don’t, here in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. I’ve spoken with personal friends, local business owners, political leaders, cancer survivors, people who are still working, and those who have been laid off.
I’ve heard stories from people who are struggling to adjust to a new life full of monotony. Of those who are immunocompromised and worry about going outside. Of challenges accessing unemployment benefits. Of new projects started and philosophical meditations on what the future may hold. Mostly, I’ve gotten a glimpse into how people in our community are living — and coping — in one of the most extraordinary times in American and world history.
Stating this weekend, I’ll begin publishing these accounts on my blog so others can see them, too. Each interview will be presented in a Q and A format and be accompanied by at least one image of the person or people I’ve spoken to (taken from a safe distance of 6 feet or more away).
For now, I wanted to offer a glimpse of what friends and neighbors have to say about life in the time of Coronavirus.
Here are just some of the people I’ve spoken to, and a sampling of the questions I've asked:
"It’s a privilege to have a big house and a yard and be able to quarantine yourself comfortably. A lot of people in our community may not have that, and being at home isn’t a great experience for everyone, especially if your home is crowded or if you just don’t have a good home life. I feel bad for folks who are in bad domestic situations at this time." -- Dan Reed, Silver Spring
"I’d like to think that there will be a new appreciation for the workers who are getting us through this. Not just the healthcare workers like nurses and doctors, but the people in the grocery stores and pet stores. The guys out there picking up our trash. The restaurant workers who are still able to work and provide us with carry out or delivery." -- Mike Diegel, Silver Spring
"Prayer and meditation are priceless. I also go for a walk once a day. I talk to my friends a lot. And Tiger King. Where would any of us be without Tiger King?" -- Dr. Lilly Walker Shelton, Silver Spring
If you live or work in Silver Spring or Takoma Park and are interested in having your life documented at this time -- or know someone who has a unique experience and is willing to share -- please contact me.
To all those who have made this project possible, I thank you for your time and generosity.
To the neighbors who will respond on the future, I look forward to getting to know you.
And to everyone reading -- stay healthy and safe. We will make it through.