By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/21/20 – 2019 is but a near yet distant memory. Sure, there were hard times; maybe you broke up with your partner for the millionth time, lost a parent, or got laid off from your job and took a pay cut at another 3 months later. Perhaps you had a huge blowout with your parents, and they said they never wanted to see you again or maybe, your best friend broke up with you, leaving your heart in a million pieces; more fractured than any lover could leave you.
None of the woes from 2019, could have ever prepared us for this.
Domino-like, the CoronaVirus, or the scientifically coined, COVID-19, has viciously swept through the nation and seemingly the world, with its threat of robbing us of a phenomenon that we have all taken for sincere granted: physical intimacy.
No, not hooking up, actually seeing people. The co-worker who you may not know their name, but you see them from time to time. You notice when they aren’t at work. You’ve possibly remembered their gaite, or recognized the sheepish smile they give when you pass each other in and out of the break room. But now, a simple Uber ride gives most Americans pause; I could become one of the infected, or worse, I wont make it out of 2020 alive.
Frankly, what really sucks is, as a collective we were looking forward to this year, okay? I mean, people had Great Gatsby new years eve themed parties, complete with flapper dresses and champagne coupe’s. Millions of couples planned to proclaim their love in front of family and friends and God. I had personally prepared for loving myself so fiercely, in a way I never had before and while I can still do this, many of my peers had goals of their own that they were completely owning at the tail end of 2019, only to be halted when news broke of the numbers in China’s confirmed deaths increased, and more than that, people in the US started contracting this disease, and even began to die from it.
Here we are in the close of March; most of our cities, coast to coast, even nation to nation are on a complete lock down; ‘Shelter in Place’, Quarantine, and ‘social distancing’ are the new normal phrases that we tire from hearing. Anxiety waxes and wanes like the breezes we yearn for from being inside of the house. Going a bit stir crazy; we want to hope that everything will be okay, but the truth is, we do not know. We long for normalcy, and so we continue to work from home and wear our Sundays best to answer calls on the couch. Our pets love all the newfound attention that they’re getting and some of us don’t know how we would cope without them.
Non ‘essential’ businesses are closing, unemployment rates are some of the most disgusting numbers we’ve seen, and the marginalized and disenfranchised groups are still being forgotten; daydreaming about the ‘boring’ four walls that some Americans even now take for granted. Instead, while the working class public are told not to congregate, individuals that are directly affected by the housing crisis in big cities like LA and New York, are being mass housed in shelters; a hotbed for the virus to yet again wreak havoc through.
Parents are forced to understand their child on a level in which they should have understood already, while obtaining an incredible appreciation for teachers that emotionally, physically, and spiritually support our children for the better part of their lives.
Health officials are missing their families and putting themselves at increased risk, whilst simultaneously urging everyone to stay home. This of course results in public ego getting the better of us with tempting whispers that pridefully declare, ‘you can actually do what you want, continue going outside. Quarantine, shmorantine.”
Healers and astrologists are watching the stars for what’s to come and how to prepare, while elders are watching their daily television programs, trying to enjoy yet another hurdle of this paradox called life.
The long and short of it is, times are fucking bleak. This week alone friends of mine have been through a whirlwind of emotions. In the thick of the unknown, every single day is truly a gift and an unforeseen terror of what’s to come for the next. Lines at the gun shops across the south land are almost as long as the lines at Trader Joe’s in preparation of looting, desperate acts of violence or any other terrible reality our imaginations (anxieties) can conjur.
No matter how much the fear of COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds, there is always the other side of the spectrum to all of this where truly miraculous, beautiful moments, and awe inspiring connectivity has taken place in the midst of a circumstance that most of us have never experienced in our lifetime.
Social media stays true to form and provides Americans equal parts questionable news articles, resources for peers who are high risk, and lends people a window from their own home into the lives of their friends in a time when we long for congregation. This week alone we’ve seen an uptick of virtual happy hours, TikTok dances, and Facetime family hangouts; among the top ways folks can free themselves from the monotony of this virus that has robbed so many people of life and liveliness.
Everything is cancelled, From SXSW, Coachella, and many other music festivals and conventions leading up to the summertime. However, creatives are surrendering even more so to their roots. Instead of laying down in acceptance of the status quo, many celebrities have been bitten by the innovation bug and began to perform free concerts Via Instagram and Facebook Live (thank you, Erykah Badu, John Legend and Tank and the Bangas!) In a time where we are truly seeing how celebrities realistically do not exist on the pedestals that our minds inadvertently place them on, it has been refreshing to not miss out on the art that fills us so. And its not just celebrities. If we play close attention, we could very well be on the brink of a modern day renaissance! When we are pushed by things beyond our control, we tend to have no choice but to surrender, release, and adapt.
And finally, on the front lines, resources are being shared amidst panic buying and store closures. Civilian organizers in LA county have taken matters into their own hands and have formed radical programs to get elders food and essentials as they are carelessly forgotten by the many aggressively capatistic minded angelenos. And for the students that depend solely on school lunch to eat in many poverty stricken areas, many civilians have banded together to help our children get fed and taught during this unthinkable time.
My question is, why can’t this always be our reality sans this growing pandemic? In what ways can humans just be good, without the threat of apocalyptic style illnesses that incapacitates communities? Frequently, we wait until a step before too late to sincerely unify and use our basic resources to save ourselves, and then save each other. What would the world be like if at the end of this nightmare, we did not stop implementing these social programs or we did not stop treating homeless people as victims of absurdly expensive, gentrified cities? What if we could hold onto the kind of raw humanity that tends to only show itself to us in the face of global danger; never forgetting again that the wellness of your neighbor, directly impacts the wellness of you?
When we do get passed this, my wish is that none of the kindness cease. My wish is that we continue being responsible for one another, and loving each other in a way that transcends and transmutes the lower forms of love we were once accustomed to. As the world grows older, as global warming and overpopulation continues to become more of a threat for us and younger generations, my wish is that we can finally put prideful individuality aside and become one. The way our lives are so connected on social media is the same way our lives are, and can be connected offline. The only way we can beat this, and other obstacles in our lifetime, is to be united together. We are honestly all we have, and all we will need. Let the universe guide our way.