Though I’m not proud of it, I have felt a thrill contemplating life in a time of disaster. The scenario involves a homesteady home, a capable and loving partner with survival smarts, a luxurious garden, and lots of books. And yarn. And, of course, internet, because if we’re bunking down in our homestead, struggling to survive, I want to relax at the end of the week with a good movie.
Though the current pandemic isn’t the disaster I imagined, it has a lot of its features: widespread social disruption, uncertainty, rapidly changing circumstances, and the possibility of death. I don’t know when the taken-for-grantedness of how we live has been so thoroughly defenestered. The level of unease I hear from everyone I know speaks to how scary this situation is. The worst-case scenario is dire, and social responses don’t seem strong enough to avert this.
However, we are not there yet (Important note! This does NOT mean that we should ignore the current guidelines about strict social distancing. Everyone should STAY HOME unless they absolutely need to fulfill an essential duty, such as getting groceries–perhaps once per week, and less frequently would be good; and please, for the well-being of all, stop socializing with each other. And stop letting your kids play together. PLEASE.) …
To pick up again … We are not there yet, and I’m amazed at how livable life is right now. My spouse and I are able to work at home (me) and next door (him, on an empty house). We are SO VERY LUCKY to have a house with a yard, in a small town, with access to nature. It’s spring, when anything is possible and the sun makes life good. We have books (do we have books!), craft supplies, and gazillions of fun things on the internet thanks to all the beautiful people making beautiful learning opportunities for kids. In some ways, this situation fits really well with some of the rosier survival images I had.
And yet. It’s only been a bit more than a week since this started. Our area hasn’t yet been seriously hit with the outbreak. Our daughter is doing fine, but it’s lonely for her as an only child. We are in a privileged economic situation, but I don’t know how long this will last. If any health problems come up, I worry about going to the doctor or hospital. We are starting to put in our garden, but we aren’t farmers. We can’t grow a year’s worth of food in our yard, try though we might.
And it’s not just about us. We are so, so lucky, but others aren’t. When I first heard the directives to stay home, my heart went immediately to people who experience domestic violence. I can’t imagine the horror of closing horizons, trapped with someone who is not safe. People without homes, as well, are in precarious situations, and I don’t know whether government will step up quickly enough to help. And the countless other situations, of curtailed income, loneliness, and missed opportunities.
In short: lesson learned. My apocalypse fantasy was thrilling as a fantasy; I’m grateful we’re relatively well-positioned to get through this period; but this is not the world I want to live in, for myself or everyone else.