I went to enter something on the May family calendar in the pantry and realized that I had not yet turned the page to April. This is a litmus test of activity in our house. The master household calendar, the director of traffic in our lives, the synchronizer of all family comings and goings has not been needed. I haven’t referred to, or written in it since March, which ended 26 days ago.
We’ve come to a standstill. Parts of our lives are like a deserted house in a Scooby-Doo cartoon, where rooms are laced with cobwebs, furnishings covered in dust, and items scattered on a banquet table as if the revelers vanished mid-dinning.
Much of the city is like that. Frozen in time. People left spaces expecting to return in a couple of weeks, and didn’t.
White erase boards in meeting rooms and classrooms still marked up with work in-progress. Desks and lockers containing items that wouldn’t have been left behind if the duration had been known. Theater stage sets ready for the next performance.
Display windows in a boutique nearby remain static – they didn’t win the “essential” designation. School electronic signs blink with outdated information. Cars sitting in driveways gather a thicker coat of pollen. The neighborhood library is closed again — after finally reopening following a long post-Hurricane Harvey restoration. Are returned books piling up in the return box, or not being returned at all?
Playgrounds are taped up like crime scenes. The school zone blinking lights still flash at the appointed hours of day for those out exercising and the occasional car passing by. The Spring fashion season has been skipped – glad I hadn’t bought anything. Billboards once vibrant with concerts, sports events, and festival posters have nothing enticing to say.
I wonder what’s going on inside empty churches, movie theaters, sports stadiums, schools, offices, museums, gyms and theme parks? Is dust slowly covering over the inside surfaces. Have the cockroaches and mice moved in, or isn’t there enough for them to scrounge on, now that the humans have fled. What is happening in these dark, quiet caverns left untended? I’ve heard reports of frantic rodents in shut-down restaurant districts. Read this NBC News report, if you want the details. I’m not offering more here, as I personally wish I didn’t have that image in my head.
As we start cracking open some of these spaces, what will we find?