We are currently living history. These moments we are living will end up on the pages of a text book in a social studies class. It will be written how Covid-19 came suddenly, seemly out of nowhere, how states and even countries were quarantined to their homes. Schools and businesses closed. How you had to wait in line to enter a grocery store with a mask and gloves on to only find out that there still was no water, paper products or frozen vegetables. It will speak of Broadway being shut down for the first time in decades and restaurants offering only take out services.
Then there will be the hard things. It will continue with the essential workers who put their life on the line everyday, the lack of ventilators, the fear to even hug the people you lived with, parking lots covered in surgical gloves and sadly, the millions of people around the world who would never make it to the other side of the pandemic. It will reveal a new term ‘Social Distancing’ with a magic number of ‘6’ and all that it entailed. It would even be compared to the movie Contagion, almost foreshadowing the very cause of the real life outbreak. It will reveal the thousands out of work, struggling to even afford food.
One day, when this is inevitably all over, you will get asked what it was like. It will be inconceivable, that you lived through it and survived it but, none of us will leave this unscathed. Most of us will be able to recall the moment your places of employment shut down and you were sent home, your first trip to the grocery store after things had gotten bad. You will remember the thoughts of being completely out of control of what is happening in the world. How the days at home tended to blur to together and how you prayed, no matter what you believed in, that those dearest to you would be safe.
You will remember the good things as well though, the things that got you through the days. The praise for technology, allowing many of us to keep our jobs, even from home, the ability to see and speak to our loved ones via video calls and the way it made you reevaluate the world and your own life, remembering how precious life is. Despite the hardships, you will remember the extra family time you got and you will forget the arguments had due to quarantine stress. You will remember the small moments and memories you made within your home, and the small things that brought you joy in even the hardest of moments.
A photograph is worth a thousand words. It proved it happened, that we were there, that we lived. It’s our memory’s that keep us alive in the end and it’s our duty today to make sure we document it.
A few weeks ago, I packed myself and my puppy in my car and started driving around with the window down. We both needed a change of scenery and air. This was the safest way I thought we could do just that, from the safety of inside the car away from people. Doing something normal, just driving.
As I drove I noticed the normally packed areas of people that were now empty. It was Erie to witness, and I thought about how things might be different in 2 months, 6 months or even a year. Would this all be back to normal and forgotten? Would some of these businesses ever open their doors again? Mostly, how we took so many things for granted and how I hoped we never would again.
I felt this need, as a photographer to document it. To document this story not just for me but, for everyone who will come after me. They need to not only hear the stories but, see it to believe it. To see it and be grateful that they can go to the movies, school, work and the grocery store not worrying about what they may accidentally touch, or if the store would have any stock of toilet paper. To be be grateful to see and hug their loved ones when the moment arose.
This is Covid-19, New Jersey.