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Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

It’s the first full week of April and I’ve somehow successfully managed to avoid shopping in a store since March 13th. Today, I had to break my streak to grab a few grocery items and chose to go to Target because it was close and certainly serves as a one stop shop. Now, despite my time away from in-person store interactions, I was not naive to the long lines and the empty shelves. I came prepared with my homemade bandana mask (which wasn’t as successful as the Twitter videos made it seem) and my latex gloves ready to take on any crowds and hopefully any germs. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the way that everyone was reacting to one another.

There’s an omnipresent feeling of fear that filled the air throughout my Target experience starting as soon as I parked my car. The store opened at 8 am and I arrived at 8:05 am, hoping to get in and out quickly. Three other cars arrived at roughly the same time as me and we were each careful to park at least a space apart from one another even if it meant walking further (and I always usually look for the closest spot!). I took a deep breath, made a quick alteration to my DIY mask to better secure it, put on my gloves, and got out of the car. One of the other customers who also just arrived was several feet ahead of me. Given that we were going to the same place, I maintained a safe following distance yet he still kept turning around to look at me as if to measure and confirm that I was six or more feet away from him. In the store, it was a very similar dynamic as we avoided aisles until others have left them. A Target employee restocking the shelves even flinched when I reached to grab something on the other side of the aisle from them. In the comfort of my home (with the exception of nature walks), I am somewhat shielded from the one thing that is bringing us together in these times of physical distance, genuine fear for our lives.

Having gotten the items that I needed that were in stock, I quickly paid and returned to my car. Once there, I of course wiped everything down with Clorox wipes and then took a deep breath. If I’m being quite honest that breath scared me because I suddenly thought about all of the ways that I could have possibly contracted COVID-19 in that short public adventure. I then got sad as I thought about those Target employees and the thousands of other essential employees who are working hard to clean the self checkout machine and the carts for my convenience, despite the fact that they are constantly on the front line of exposure. My next thought was that I can’t wait for the day when this is all over and that really got me thinking. 

The truth of the matter is that things will have to be different after. Those of us who have the privilege to telework often joke about a better future where meetings can be emails and companies will be more understanding of a work from home option. But in my observations, the changes will be much more extensive. We hear on the news everyday about the impact that this has on our economy but there is no discussion surrounding the impact on the mental and physical health of those in our society. Our bodies and minds are riddled with fear and anxiety as we are constantly made aware of the rising number of cases, the increasing death toll, and the new state legislature that continues to get stricter and stricter in a much needed effort to save lives. But in 21 days I have grown somewhat afraid of the outside world. I can’t even imagine what will happen in 50 days or even 100. 

So, what do we do and where do we go from here? I don’t know. But now that I’m conscious of the fear that is constantly sitting at the forefront of this global catastrophe I’m hoping I can use that to get ahead. I’m hoping to use some of what seems like endless time at home to re-center myself in an attempt to lessen my emotional reaction in days to come and in the aftermath. This way, I can hopefully be there for those around me who perhaps weren’t given the chance to do that throughout all of this.

Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

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