I’m on my own yet surrounded by untouchable people.
We’re collectively soaking up the mild excitement of shopping at the supermarket. So, this is life in a pandemic.
A time when a well-stocked frozen food aisle makes me weak at the knees.
A time when a simple trip to the grocery store is a dystopic scene of masked civilians eyeing each other off.
Even more so when I realise nothing can save me from my own dank breath circulating between my insides and my mask.
This piece of protective equipment might save others from my germs, but it turns out nothing can save me from the falafel in bread I chowed earlier in the day.
As I scan the product shelves I think about that bitch, COVID-19, that’s put the whole world in the naughty corner.
It feels like we can only watch as it catapults geopolitical tensions and reveals globalisation to be as intertwined and crumbly as those Pringles I’m eyeing off.
Of course, this was always the case, but now I don’t have the monotony of everyday life to dilute these thoughts.
As I throw some concentrated washing liquid into my basket, I realise I’m experiencing uncertainty and discomfort in its thickest, most concentrated format. When? Is the question.
When can we go outside? When will the businesses reopen? When can we visit our sick ones? When can we mourn or celebrate like we used to? When will life resume?
Time itself is an unexpected gift in this strange period when the hours and days dance around each other, warping into distorted reality.
This is déjà vu on steroids.
Our collective experience is built on a set of paradoxes: We are alone, but together. Time feels different, but it’s the same as it always was.
We can choose to kill it, save it, or spend it.
It is at once a treasure and relentless thief. There for the taking.
I feel stagnant but everything is changing behind the scenes.
The entire world is evolving, grinding its way through growing pains.
I walk into another aisle where raw fear and panic has taken over and ransacked the shelves.
In this one, my choices are hot dogs in a jar or tinned cod liver.
Not ideal, but not bad when I consider what could’ve been with so many lives and livelihoods recently destroyed.
What do we have to gain when we experience loss on this level?
Living in Berlin during a pandemic has its own flavour.
There’s a practicality to the approach.
A certain wisdom that must only come with having weathered (and bounced back) from so much worse.
As I make my way to the checkout, I think about how much we stand to gain when we learn to swap control for resilience.
Words - Isabella Ubaldi
Design - Isolation Ideation