Friday, March 20, 2020

Six Feet

It was the open door that caught my eye.

Main Street now home to a row of signs plastered on darkened storefronts, all announcing in one form or another the current state of dysfunction. "Closed" and "Coronavirus" the common denominator, informing all who passed that life was officially on hold. 

What the center of this town, in the middle of the day in the middle of the week should have been proudly displaying, now replaced by profound silence and a deep sense of foreboding.

As I walked along, I was acutely aware of my heightened senses. Every noise that previously would not have even registered suddenly pregnant with meaning. Every human within my periphery now disproportionately critical. Each step someone moved closer to me a harbinger of potential disaster.

There were only a few of us here, and in my mind's eye I can now recall each of them. The young woman who came around the corner and ducked into a building before she reached into my space. The older man with the beard and the ponytail. But he ventured on to a side street just before our paths would have passed. The middle aged woman staring out the front window of a coffee shop, still serving take out I guessed. No others were there, I am certain. This must be what war is like, I thought. The enemy lurking anywhere and everywhere.

A few cars dotted the landscape, almost as if they were props for a movie, rather than actual vehicles intended to move someone from here to there. For it seemed there was no longer anyplace anyone had to be. 

Walking by myself on this street was never before an act of isolation. In a time when we were not under attack, before each of us became a suspect, I absorbed the humanity streaming in all directions like rays of sunlight, eavesdropping on the clues that others left in their words floating through the air, in their gestures, in the smile on their faces, in their laughter or maybe even their anger. Being on this street was an act of community, even when I did not reach out to others, even if their lives did not intentionally intersect with mine. But today none of that remains. It is as if it has all been vaporized. Today I am alone on Main Street.

But back to the open door. It was as though this one store had not gotten the message, that no one told them we were in the middle of the apocalypse. As if the rest of the world had now turned black and white, while this one slice of earth remained in color. Was this place really open for business, really inviting the public, whatever and whoever that might still be, into a space unencumbered by reality?

And what, you might ask, was this outlier? A children's toy store. Did they believe children were immune from the ravages of this tsunami and thus welcome to partake in the last remaining vestige of sanity? Or that little people, unaware of what was swirling all around, should not be deprived of their essential nourishment?

Sadly, I will never know. For I was not on this journey with the intention of interacting with other homo sapiens. My thoughts not on communication, not on investigation. My overriding and all consuming focus on maintaining my distance. Six feet. Six feet. Six feet. Six feet. Nothing else was important enough to breach this immutable mandate, penetrate the wall to investigate what might well have been the last untrammeled outpost on the entire planet earth. 

Maybe the door was only open in that instant for the proprietor to take one last look at his evaporated business. Or maybe he didn't want any customers handling door knobs. There are endless maybes in a world turned on its head but only one definite.

Six feet.


Anonymous said...

when and if we get through this debacle.......six feet under for the parasite that is president!

Robert said...

I never comment on my own pieces but I had one more thought:

Congratulations to President Trump.You have now built your wall. It is six feet around and it separates each of us from the rest of the world. And the cost:an untold amount of lives as a direct result of his lying, his hubris, his malfeasance, his neglect.

Anonymous said...

This does feel like the isolation of war. Better six feet apart though, than six feet under. Appreciating the simple things we can enjoy will get us through. One of the things I am grateful for is your writing. Be well.


Anonymous said...

Love this piece.


Anonymous said...

Well said.


Anonymous said...

Six feet apart...Six feet under. How ironic