Going out whilst staying in
Lockdown happened. Then going out whilst staying in became a new reality. I started work, started using public transport like never before whilst being careful, like everyone, not to catch the virus, ever vigilant not to touch anything, to clean and wash as the government said. The rules and regulations became the mantra and my norm. Going to work has given a new view, looking out of the window of the bus, the train, the taxis. Learning a new role, feeling out of my depth, nervous, scared, how can I do a job and keep COVID-19 at bay?
— Maggie McAndrews (Plymouth, Devon, UK)
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Two years ago I retired after a fifty-year career as a pioneering drama therapist. I let go of most possessions, fears, and antipathies, settling into a small apartment with carefully chosen books and images. My girlfriend visited from China but could not return. A few paces behind, coronavirus appeared, compelling me to retreat to old fears and antipathies. And so, I give it shape in my imagination and interrogate it daily: ‘What more do I need to let go of? What do I need to retain?’ It is silent, but in my mind’s eye, I hear it saying: ‘Nothing.’
— Robert Landy (New York, New York)
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The fear, the questions, no answers. Will I get it from the groceries delivered? Will I get it walking on the street wearing a mask? Will it come through an open window? Trapped in the invisible death trap.
I am old, elderly, over the hill sliding down on slick black ice. Just in case, I write letters to my children hoping they will keep the letters after I’m gone. I shall not send the letters. Not yet. After all, what if I don’t die? What then? What will I do with the letters?
— Sandra Weintraub (Newtonville, Massachusetts)
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All of us connected in our not-knowing, in our common, drastically uncommon plight. Our questions are many, many more than our answers, our breaths more dearly counted. The bright lights of my friends and family are further off, yet closer to my heart. Nature is my most constant familiar, my salvation.
Will we emerge from these strange days of disease joyfully opening our wings of freedom or will they be bound tightly to our bodies by fear or ordinance? Many of us will be much older then and many of us will have grown much younger. Merlins and baby butterflies.
— Sherilyn Wolter (Princeville, Hawaiʻi)
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.