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Pickle Me This

May 25, 2020

There Are No Good Places to Be During a Pandemic

Me in my hammock
Possibly a good place to be during a pandemic.

Are there really no good places to be during a pandemic? During the last three months as I’ve gone nowhere, I’ve certainly had time to reflect on this. And definitely, there are bad places to be during a pandemic—at the source of the outbreak, of course. Or in a care home or group living facility, as the virus spreads through patients and staff (and the systemic failures here are a tragedy. Everything about how these places are funded, staffed and receive oversight has to change). On the streets is a very bad place to be during a pandemic. At work in a hospital is also a bad place to be, particularly when you don’t have access to protective equipment. Twitter is also a very bad place to be during a pandemic, because everyone is as angry and irritable as I’m feeling often these days. So I keep posting lilacs on Instagram instead.

But the idea of a good place to be—I’ve been thinking about this, because for the first time in my life, I have struggled with being in the city, being in the city without a car in particular. Envying people who’ve already escaped to their cottages, people with backyard pools, people with huge houses where everybody has their own room and no parent has to take a Zoom call in their kids’ bottom bunk because there is nowhere else to go. Wishing we had a different kind of life, living off the grid, self-sustainably in the middle of nowhere, perhaps. Would it be easier then? Seeing the appeal of the suburbs, of green lawns for days.

Although I am not complaining. Much. I miss transit though, so strongly, which made the whole city open up wide for us… But our apartment is a comfortable place to be with room for all of us, and the good weather means we throw open the doors and the porch becomes an extra room. We are surrounded by trees. We have a backyard, albeit one that is mainly concrete, but I’ve been hammocking avidly and we’ve bought a small pool that we’ll be setting up as soon as the cover arrives from Home Hardware. We have neighbours that leave gifts on our porch, and friends who leave chalk drawings on the sidewalk, and so many friends’ houses to walk by on our meandering aimless walks. Yesterday we managed to walk down to the lake, which always seems so much farther away than it actually is. (What I would give to visit the beach though!)

We’re luckier than many people, although so many of us can say that. I have a friend who lives in an condo tower, but the lake is at her doorstep. My friends in the suburbs can camp out in their backyards. Friends near lakes can go swimming. Friends in the wilderness are surrounded by the splendours of nature, and those of us in the city have bakeries and sushi joints nearly on our doorsteps, which has certainly made weathering these last few months a more pleasant experience—and I think living in more density has made me more acclimatized and less likely to view every passerby as a potential agent of contagion. My friend who lives in a high rise apartment can walk easily down into the cool of a ravine. Other friends have family nearby. Some have got the low risk of rural communities, but the best hospitals in the country are a ten minute walk from where I live, so it’s a trade-off.

So many of us, no matter where we live, are blessed with the extraordinary kindness of neighbours.

I suppose while there is no good place to be in the midst of a pandemic, the best place to be is where you’re home.

3 thoughts on “There Are No Good Places to Be During a Pandemic”

  1. Diane says:

    Yes, to all of this. Yes. We had our first personal-distancing visit in a driveway on Saturday evening. It felt so good to talk to someone other than my husband (though no complaints there either) and to laugh and forget everything else for nearly 2 hours. But now, I want that again — more. I know, don’t get greedy.

    So, like you, our best place is at home.

  2. Sharon says:

    Where I am feels like a pretty good place to be except that, with one exception, it’s really, really far from everyone I love most so that also makes it a bad place to be. Maybe there are good places but not perfect places. Certainly there are worse places.

    1. Kerry says:

      Yes, there are always worse places. And there are hammocks, which are always better.

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