TPM Reader KM tells us in the subject line of her email that she writes from Detroit …
My own experience of the pandemic is of something that was very distant and abstract up till the moment I was in the thick of it. So my turning point is more like a breaking point: the experience that split my life into a Before and a Now.
This would have been March 11. I got an email from my hometown’s library that due to public health concerns, all branches would be closing until further notice. (I actually haven’t lived there for years, don’t know how I was still on the mailing list.) I understood the necessity of cancelling mass events and gatherings, closing meeting spaces, and so on. But libraries are some of our last remaining noncommercial communal spaces. And a lot of people hang out in public libraries because they feel most safe there, or because they really have nowhere else to go. To give up that commons, to cede it to the virus, felt like an act of despair. I understood the logic. But that didn’t make the loss any less painful.
I also want to mention that I work at a small independent grocery store. March 13 was apocalyptically busy, to the point that it was difficult to maneuver among customers and almost impossible to push a cart of product. It felt like there were an infinite number of people in the tri-county area doing an infinite amount of panic shopping, all in one store at one time. Two days later I got sick. I can’t be certain that what I had was COVID-19, though based on my symptoms I believe it was. If so, I would’ve been positive but asymptomatic in the most crowded area of a crowded store for an entire shift.
I think about this a lot.
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