Throughout this pandemic, we've made some incredible discoveries both personally and interpersonally. We've learned how dependent we are on certain habits and relationships have changed. As the experts agreed, we kept in touch with our closest family and friends as part of our mental health. When I go for my walks, I often wonder about the crossing-guard at the school, the bus driver that waves in the mornings or the neighbours that we greet with just a nod in winter or a friendly smile. What does community mean to you?
After months of confinement, Bia finds herself heading over to the stores. Her vocabulary increased with terminologies like social distancing, designated shoppers, collective energy and Covid-19, but she had no idea what that looked like on the outside.
In front of the store, where mainly the lower-income people shop, is a long lineup with people silenced by facial masks on markers about two meters apart. Pre the lockdown every bargain store in the neighbourhood had a familiar face in front, collecting from the goodwill of regulars a can of meatballs, a bag of chips, small change and whether you give or not a quick exchange of hospitality. Bia knows them all by the name, the homeless became her regulars like she through the turn of fates became the stores'. Throughout the pandemic, she joined them in the category of high risk.
Unfamiliar with waiting times for the lineup and the newness of being back on the street, Bia heads over to the drugstore with only two personnel. The frontline receptionist waves her to the inside, and behind the plastic face cover, asks Bia about symptoms and if she has a fever. Satisfied with Bia's negative response, she rushes off a long list of shoppers protocol. Follow the arrows, respect everyone, no touching or browsing, pick what you need, head over to the circles on the floor and wait for your turn to pay with debit or credit cards only. Plastic bags are free, or you can pack your items yourself if you brought a bag from home.
For three months, every radio program has regularly been interrupted by Covid-19 updates and to bring awareness of symptoms. Not surprising, in the moment of confusion Bia heads over to the isle with cold and flu medication takes ones that are on sale and goes straight to the plastic sheeted pay station. Almost unexpected Bia finds the familiar face cashier, friendly informative about lottery ticket sales allowed as from this day. Bia takes that as a sign.
Outside the lineup to the bargain store is still growing. Bruno, the homeless face for that store waves her over. Capsules for colds, a lottery ticket and no cash...Then Bia remembers the rule laid down by him of never to explain, he of all people knew the ebb and flow of government allowances.
"I waited for you", he says "I'm going to miss you". Bia replies with the overwhelming relief that both of them miraculously escaped the virus. Over the next week, Bruno will relocate. His uncle died, not from the virus he adds and Bruno inherited the house. They strictly abide by the two meters apart disguise the uncertainty about the future with the exchanging of information about the next homeless to take his spot.
Bia takes the detour through the green park. She can't keep inside the tears that spring from losing the sight of an ever-friendly face.
Keep journaling, Keep growing.