A century later, we understand
Her grandchildren complained when their YiaYia nagged them to wear a sweater and socks, even in the summer. “You’ll get cold,” “be careful,” and “stay home,” she would say worriedly.
She was four when her mother and a quarter of her village in northern Greece died of the “Spanish Flu.” She was with her mother when she died, begging her to wake up.
For her, there was a direct link between catching a cold and potentially dying.
A hundred years later, when a cough or sneeze fills us all with dread and fear, we finally understand.
— Madeline Snow Typadis (Newton, Massachusetts)
* * *
I begin a three-day road trip from Evansville to Rochester (and back) in order to retrieve my older son (and all his collegiate stuff). Along the way, I stop to visit my parents. I refuse to go inside their house. I insist that we not hug. We visit via a long walk, instead. The Hampton Inn I stay at that night, three stories high, has all of five cars in the parking lot. Overhead interstate signs read “Stop the Spread: Save Lives” and “Stop the Virus: Stay Home.”
— Mark Rigney (Evansville, Indiana)
* * *
Week four of the quarter and I’m teaching remotely because of the virus. But today I’m driving to school to retrieve my office chair. I could drive this in my sleep and that’s the problem – we’ve all been sleeping, all been profoundly disillusioned. Empty parking lot. Keycard, hum, greenlight, in. Mild disinfectant. Floors! Shiny blue, like the sky in the wrong place. Here’s 204, my eerie empty classroom, and my black office chair. I should go but I don’t. I linger, staring at my posters of Shakespeare and Jack London, literary terms in a row above my whiteboard: metaphor, irony, paradox.
— Kristina Hakanson (Scottsdale, Arizona)
* * *
Faraway friends are closer
I call my new Indian friends on WhatsApp. We aren’t all busy like we said we would be, and we didn’t expect to still feel so close to each other. We anticipated distance after I finished my residency, but now we know where each other are; all sharing an experience – a common fear. I tell them about my walks, how I swapped peacocks for pheasants and vampire bats for buzzards, how I have to wear jumpers to go outside now. They laugh. We have different concerns, but we can all agree that it’s a good time for making art.
— Grace Gelder (Ironbridge, Shropshire, United Kingdom)
This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.