Pandemic journal: Day 9 writing workshop

Drafted during Ericka Lutz’s Writing in Place virtual workshop, March 22 (Day 9 of voluntary social distancing)


  • Seeing, hugging, touching, being near, making eye contact with people I love
  • Casual touch of any kind
  • Seeing people organically, accidentally, in the normal course of things
  • (The normal course of things)
  • Sharing food
  • Going out to eat on a whim
  • (Or at all)
  • Picking up groceries blithely and easily, just because I’ve run out of something 
  • The sweet, sheltering community of our co-op preschool 
  • Any routines for my child that I’m not wholly responsible for enforcing at all times 
  • Dance class, oh, SV’s particular dance class: seeing who’s there that day, moving across the studio, learning phrases with my body
  • (I tried yesterday to recall some of the choreography from our most recent class and I couldn’t; I hadn’t yet had enough time with it; my mind has been too full with everything)
  • Variety in where I go each day
  • My Meetup walks around the lake: moving briskly! In nature! With strangers! In a group! 
  • Fresh haircuts, the buzz of a communal gathering space 
  • Public events of any kind
  • The Oakland Museum
  • Taking Owl to classes and play dates and on adventures 
  • The library as a neighborhood space
  • Being able to go to a place like preschool or our regular rotation of shops/restaurants or the hair salon without a plan to see anybody, but knowing we’ll see familiar faces nonetheless 
  • The organic, spontaneous encounters with other kids at school, either on my working day or otherwise; cuddly interactions with some, shy ones or sweet ones with others
  • Welcoming smiles from the teachers and other parents
  • The way this kind of passing-by lets us get to know people or see how they’re doing without effort, as opposed to reaching out over email or text
  • Hearing the kids at the elementary school across the street 
  • Looking out my window to see crowds at the boba place, rather than upended yellow bar stools in the window and paper on their door that I know says “takeout only”


  • The absence of fear in almost any moment
  • Walking outside without anxiety or guilt
  • Making any kind of shopping transaction without anguish over the balance I’m choosing: potential infection versus supporting a small business or producer? Am I endangering others for my optional purchases? How can we abandon these stores to go down all on their own, unsupported by we who’ve been grateful for them many times over the years?
  • Being annoyed with my doctor, instead of afraid for her
  • Cooking or baking anything without at least a moment’s hesitation over whether this is unnecessarily depleting our supplies
  • Imagining, reasonably, that anyone I know over 65 — anyone of my parents’ generation — will still be here in a year or even by the end of this year or maybe even by fall
  • NOT feeling urgency to check in on my friends at any moment
  • Seeing delivery drivers, postal carriers, grocery workers, restaurant workers, rideshare or taxi drivers, elderly people without a visceral pang of worry on their behalf
  • The reasonable expectation that tomorrow will be like today, rather than an exponential explosion of horror, fear, and grief
  • Not having some anxiety over anything running low or running out, from art supplies to food
  • The blithe freedom to not disinfect things when we come in from the outside
  • Not feeling like I’m protecting our mortal lives every time I wash my hands