The Corona Diaries
Carmen (29, Los Angeles, Freelance Consultant / Writer / Podcaster)
My "last hurrah" was a final trip to the Grand Canyon. I packed Lysol wipes for the gas pumps, washed my own fruit before I left and packed it up in a re-usable produce bag, buckled my dog in and started to cry. I looked outside at the wild world that we've so irreparably fucked up, sanitized my hands over and over and over again, poured coffee from gas station cups into my own reusable mugs from home.
My friend who met me in Flagstaff is a German resident, the daughter of a Texan epidemiologist. She handed me a face mask and an extra container of hand sanitizer, asked me if I'd wiped everything down in the motel, sent me a response plan and tucked me in after I was done having a panic attack.
This year, I reorganized my entire life in pursuit of more time somewhere else. I wanted to travel, to write about the road, to go become the person I knew was hiding out in the backseat just waiting to get to where she was going. I quit my job, gave up the healthcare and the sick leave like a cocky piece of shit. I went to meeting after meeting, shook hand after hand in pursuit of an honest living that looked more like freedom. After I was done wiping down gas station credit card pads, disinfecting the outside of take-out containers, looking around at the highway next to families in medical masks and latex gloves, I organized my pantry and locked the front door.
But first, I called my mom and begged her to call in sick. I went online and ordered a grocery delivery to get her through the next few weeks. I helped her strategize on how to make do in an apartment alone, without a washing machine or a lot of storage space. I passed on resources and guides. I took care of her the best I could, and promised to call and call and call so she would never get so lonely she left the house.
And then I picked up the phone, opened my laptop and built this.
I am worried about getting sick with bad health insurance (or none). I am worried about my mother getting sick in a small town where care might not be adequate or accessible and she might be alone. I am worried about the president leveraging a pandemic to consolidate and overextend his power and control over this country. I am worried about what resistance looks like when we have to stay home to show each other that we care about each other.
But I am also hopeful that together, we can emerge from this more powerful than before—ready once again to hold each other, raise fists together and come together to demand better. I will take care of my neighbors and community, I will share resources, because that's all I can do from this desk—and the instant this is all over, I will step out into the sun and fight for a future where this feels like a dystopic nightmare, and not the new normal.