Is anyone else keeping tally marks on the wall to count days in captivity? Oregon is quickly approaching 40 days of Stay Home, Stay Safe protocols. We have spent weeks washing our hands, keeping our distance and finding things to do. After three weeks of looking at businesses and organizations big and small, this week we asked individuals “How are you holding up?”
As it turns out human emotions run the gamut, as one would expect. Introverts and homebodies have trained for this their entire lives and aren’t really seeing a big change. Others are used to a full social calendar and working closely with the public or large groups; many of these are feeling the pinch as they lose the human contact they crave. Lincoln City Councilor Riley Hoagland doesn’t think it is all bad. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t come up with the hardest part of all of this, because he says “it isn’t hard, inconvenient? Sure, but not terrible.” He has found ways to use this down time to give him purpose, such as making face masks. So far, he has made more than 150 masks. He started as soon as he learned that there was a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment. Knowing that official frontline workers would need the N95s and the medical-grade masks, he started sewing handmade cloth masks that he donates and sells to locals. He also keeps busy and upbeat working on his art, honing his guitar skills and spending time outdoors with his children.
Hoagland reminds us that we are the lucky ones. We are sheltering in place on the Oregon Coast. We have some of the world’s most beautiful social distancing locations, our beaches and forests. State and City beach parking lots, hiking trails and facilities are blocked off, but locals are still able to access our beaches and find new areas of the forest to explore. There has been some confusion about getting outside, however, city officials assure us that locals are allowed to avail ourselves of beaches and forests, as long as we keep a safe, six-foot distance and don’t block streets.
We spoke with a few retirees whose lives hadn’t changed much; they make fewer store runs and are having a hard time with the library closure. Those without e-readers are re-reading books in their personal collections, some for the “umpteenth time.” Physical books aren’t the only thing seeing a comeback, adults and children alike are finding pen pals from around the world in social media groups. Good old snail mail is keeping us in contact. Families and new friends alike appreciate getting a handwritten letter or card in the mailbox. As we distance ourselves physically we crave connectivity and communication; writing each other is a rewarding way to keep up to date.
Baking shelves at the grocery store are being hit hard as people try to stay busy or take a break from working at home. One amateur baker we spoke with had gone through four bags of flour this month as she tried new recipes for coffee cake, streusel and banana muffins. Stress eating, meet stress cooking. People are getting creative in the kitchen and outside. Nature walks, gardening, art and crafts are just a few things helping people fill the hours. Parents are reconnecting with their children and teaching them things they wouldn’t have learned in the classroom. One parent said it was especially rewarding to bring her son along for a few of her culinary adventures. He recently hand-rolled pasta for the family meal and excitedly proclaimed to his teacher via Zoom the next day, that it was “science and math!” For those that have run out of creative ideas for your little ones, the Lincoln City Cultural Center is offering “Creative Quarantine” kits every Thursday. Visual Arts Director Krista Eddy puts together instructions and supplies that can be picked up in the cultural center parking lot. She then posts how-to videos on the center’s Facebook page.
Retiree Dallas Baird said she hopes the pandemic encourages people to be gentle with themselves and with others.
“I hope we all learn some compassion” she said, “and realize that no matter who we are or what we think, we share the same time and space.”
We are being inundated with inspirational posts, motivational quotes and being urged to do, learn and create. Many we talked to are on a roller coaster of emotion. One day you stare out the window at nothing, wondering how you will make it through one more week. Other days you are checking projects of the to-do list, making a new recipe and scrubbing the floor boards. With much of our interaction coming from online and social media content we are feeling the pressure to perform; even more now than before the pandemic. Remember this though, if you aren’t feeling up to crawling out of bed, or getting off the couch, you aren’t alone. It is OK to not be OK during these turbulent times. None of us know how to navigate this situation, as nothing like this has happened in our lifetime. Garden or don’t. Cook or order in. Hike or binge-watch Netflix. There is no right way to handle this, so we all get to do it our way. What we have heard time and again as we asked our questions is that people are hopeful that we will come out of this better than we went in. That we will create new habits, learn from each other and gain a stronger connection around the globe as we fight through a global pandemic. We are all humans, doing our small part to keep each other healthy. We are staying apart now, so that we can come together again soon.
In addition to being professional photographers, Krista Melone and Rachel Baird are co-owners of Tah•Lume Curiosities & Gifts, which offers online commerce at www.tahlume.com.