Social distancing

Are we careful enough to avoid being called reactionary? In our drive to show how dedicated to human safety we are, are we verging on losing our sense of empathy?

My nephews drove to Mississippi last week. Everett was headed back to college and wanted his car, since his family had insisted he no longer live in dormitories or visit his university’s dining halls.

They didn’t stop along the way, per their mother’s orders. They took shifts driving, and they carried a cooler with Connecticut-originated food the entire way. Now mom calls every evening to warn Everett and his roommates that they should not go out to any parties. Or anywhere. They don’t wear masks in Mississippi.

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We have friends in Cold Spring who have started shopping at the WalMart 15 miles away because they’ll put ordered groceries in their trunk. The wife hasn’t left their property since there was snow outside. Woodstock acquaintances are scoffing at Kingston acquaintances going out to socially distanced events, saying they don’t understand the dangers.

I’m sitting in an Albany library, mask and gloves on per system-wide protocols, watching the unprotected walk the streets. They pass by without a glance. Those with curiosity who came to ask questions about our reopening were answered through glass.

We can get you things that you order online.

But we can’t get online.

We need bus cards and copies and to fax in new rental agreements so we don’t get evicted.

Sorry, but it’s not safe for us to reopen for such things yet.

We’ve gotten closer to the people we can be maskless with. We’ve gotten tighter as a family, except where political differences start to fray cohesion.

This is already old news, but it’s going to be getting even older and more fraught with deeper divisions very soon.

I’m ready for another road trip. I’m willing to test my mettle and see how far I can get to the world of closeness I remember.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.