On pause for now

I remember my nephew’s reaction when my mother put him in a corner for talking back to her. “I hate this. I hate you,” he yelled loudly, too angry for tears, which would come later.

How I worried about animals being quarantined when you moved to certain countries. It kept us from keeping pets for very long times during my family’s peripatetic years.

There was that time when my roommates were quarantined for German measles. I thought I’d have a triple apartment to myself. Being quarantined with them, however, turned out to be unexpected fun.


Literature and film are filled with forced and unforced periods of isolation, but little in terms of quarantine. Their plots are starting points for ennobling journeys of introspection and metaphoric glimpses of paradigms in flux.

A couple of hundred people gathered in Albany to scream against governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” protocol to stem the spread of Covid 19. They wore MAGA hats, carried anti-vaccination signs, made threats against Asians, and displayed an unpleasant general mood of aggression. I wore a mask and kept more than six feet away from everybody, recording audio with my phone with a leashed dog at my side. I was uninfected by either disease or ideas.

I’ve been reading social-media posts by friends and former neighbors, blowing steam on the visitors they’ve spotted in their communities. Though I understand the feelings, these folks make me feel uncomfortable. They reminded me of the glares I sometimes get hiking, picnicking, or speaking.

Has tribalism affected all classes, all corners of our lives? Instead of hanging out in the back yard yesterday evening, our family sat on our stoop and took in the street sounds. The dog whined at the door. The cats were staring at us like we were somehow quarantining them.

We recalibrated our singular, whole-in-itself home community for yet another night on pause. For now.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.

There is one comment

  1. wowjustwow

    So sad that you think it’s just right wing nuts who want to go back to work or rescue their businesses. Sad, indeed, that you aren’t concerned about the erosion of our constitutional rights.

    So selfish that you can work at home and still get a paycheck and not care that others are struggling to pay rent or put food on their tables. At some point your town won’t have the tax base to pay police or firefighters and it may be sooner than you imagine.

    Wasn’t the lockdown supposed to flatten the curve? NYC, covid’s epicenter, has sent away the Mercy and closed Javits for lack of usage. Deaths from this manmade pandemic -as tragic as they are – will be eclipsed by deaths from the manmade response.

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