We are Not Experiencing the Same Virus

One of the hard things about this time of coronavirus (there are so many) is that people are not in the same place. Not physically, not geographically, not psychologically. Some folks are blissfully learning to make their own pasta while reluctantly training themselves to spend 24 hrs a day in close-company with their spouse. Others, like me, are responding to sudden emergency medical conditions directly caused by the virus. Still others are feeding their dogs snack cakes because they’re running out of food.

My experience of the coronavirus is not yours. Our differing experiences is determined first and foremost by our geographic locations. My husband and I were in New Orleans—at one point, the worst hot spot of infection in the world—then decamped for medical reasons only to have the medical goblins find us anyway. We have experienced trauma with this virus. Trauma for our city and our families and our false sense of being in control of our lives. When I remember the virus, I will remember the masked nurse walking towards me in the early-morning parking lot of the hospital, the flickering streetlight, my sweaty palms as I tried to look brave enough to receive whatever news she was carrying.

Starting each day checking virus stats from NOLA

But our experience of the virus is primarily and long-term determined by our economic situation. After the medical crisis passed—and, knock on wood, hasn’t returned—we have been sheltering-in-place in our house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Forty-five minutes from New Orleans and a world away. The county has had only 60 cases of infection and 5 deaths (Orleans parish has had 6342 cases and 406 deaths). We can open our doors and let the Gulf Coast air in. We can order our needed food from Amazon. I am a writer and my husband is retired, so we have no new experience of trying to work from home or fear that we will lose our job through furlough or termination. We can wait this virus out, or at least we have an illusion we can.

Old-school paper after computer problems—WFH

I am not bored, but that’s only because of my particular psychology. I have an almost endless capacity for sameness and quiet. You might crave action and the chatter of friends, so you will experience quarantine differently than I do. You might need to keep your head down, plodding forward, while I might need to take fifteen minutes and put on a dress and hat as a treat to myself who so likes clothes. I have no health condition that makes me susceptible to the virus (other than age) so I do not wake up at night in full-blown panic that I will surely die before this is over. My experience of this down-time is further entrenched by a lifestyle that has had us on the move from city to city in one endless circle for what feels like years on end. I am finally staying put, grounded by a virus.

The moment that so upset my FB “friend.”

I’m grateful I’ve experienced the turmoil and quiet of the virus (and I wake each morning thankful no one in even my extended family has gotten the horrible illness of this virus). I can relate to those who fly off the handle at any attempt to make light of the situation, as well as those who feel they have been graced with a time of rest and renewal. Which doesn’t keep me from chafing at tales of bliss or being stung when “friends” on Facebook chastise me for my own lightheartedness.

Upright after the hard work of rehab.

If only we could, regardless of our circumstances, think of others. Try to see life from all sides, seeking empathy and understanding rather than condemnation and judgement. Acknowledging what we’re sharing—the slippage in knowing what day it is, the heartbreak of missing loved ones, the pitiful, shaggy hair, the dread of not knowing what is coming next—while honoring what we’re not. Letting our insights remind us of how we can help where we can help. We might not be in the same place with the virus, but, God willing, we can get through this together.

coronavirus, how to survive quarantine, surgery during coronavirus

Comments (6)

  • I’m with you on the “sameness and quiet,” but I worry about others for so many other reasons. That gives me anxiety.
    Now I’m going to focus in on one very unimportant detail here. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ORDER FOOD ON AMAZON? I have never gone on there to order food and found an available time. They are always booked up. What is your secret? Not that I am concerned at this point as my grocery store has a curbside pickup and have fulfilled at least 50% of my orders each time.
    Stay safe, you two.

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      I used the word “food” loosely. We have ordered tuna fish, peanut butter, chips, gorp, mandarin oranges—that sort of thing. But we have been successful in getting it via Amazon Prime, though Skippy, not Jiff peanut butter. We are using a local vendor for “real” food—eggs, milk, bacon, etc. Still, I’m grateful for being able to order cookies online. 🙂

  • I’m reading more about how we are not all having the same experience with this virus. Everyday I think of how fortunate I am to have a job that enables me to work from home and to have a husband who is retired. We do go out for our grocery shopping but infrequently and always with the necessary precautions. It’s easy for us, but I know our experience is so different from so many others.
    By the way, the photo of you in your dress and hat is lovely. It made me smile. How could it be a bad thing 🙂

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      So glad the hat and dress made you smile. We all have such different circumstances and different psychological reactions to those circumstances. It has helped me to remember that (though I frequently forget).

  • It’s good that you and yours are not sick and that you have a cozy place and way to be. I certainly understand, though, what it means to be COVID-adjacent. Even though I am further removed from NYC than you are from NOLA, the immense concern is a daily companion. Stay well and as light-hearted as possible!

    • Ellen Morris Prewitt

      Yes, we are both in states that were hit hard early and might be on the down side of (this) surge. May we both be safe.

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