It’s cold out there today, about as cold as it was on the mid-March morning when I parked outside the Greensboro Coliseum to cover the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament and made my way inside. That day, though, warmed up considerably before they sent us all home to hide from the virus before the first game had begun. This day’s cold is just getting started: a brittle wind with ice behind it, slicing through the sunlight, rattling the dead leaves in the trees and sending the fallen ones skittering along the street.
Eight months have passed between then and now.
I’ve been working from the kitchen table for three weeks straight — ever since a Triad City Beat staffer tested positive for COVID-19. And even before that, I sat here most days, conducting business by phone and screen, forgetting to eat lunch until midafternoon, losing track of my shower schedule, pacing pacing pacing. Every so often I step outside for a smoke, for a moment away from the grind, to feel the cold air on my skin and mark the passing of the day by the lengths of the shadows that fall across the yard. Every now and then my daughter emerges from her room and together we empty the coffeepot. Then I go back to work.
I miss the other humans. Most of them. And I won’t return to the office for another two weeks.
Sometimes I think I could do this forever if I had to. I can handle isolation. I can deal with monotony. I know how to keep the wheel turning.
But there’s no such thing as forever anymore, just this vague hope that better times, surely, are ahead, just over the horizon where our eyes can’t quite see.
I know the pandemic will last through the end of the year, bleeding into the spring and almost certainly the front end of summer. I can’t bring myself to look past that, eight months from now.
And so it goes with this slow-motion disaster, unfolding in such a way that we don’t quite know where it will lead, or how it will be resolved. The uncertainty is the thing, and there’s no fix for that but time.