‘The New Colossus’: One ER Doctor’s Coronavirus Story
‘I am at the house of God. But the angels are holding their breath.’
The days have been long.
We have forgotten our avowed aversion to screen time. We have all learned to use Zoom. The irises are peeking out again. They mustn’t have heard. We anxiously scan the news — has exponential growth begun? Did I just touch my face? What will we run out of today? When I reuse my mask, are they still not plastered on the outside?
Market Basket, my local grocer, announced special hours for the elderly. How civilized. Like in Australia. My friends in California cannot leave home. Capone, in Union Square, posted a sign on its door. I stood on the street and called them on my phone. They came out with my bottle of olive oil and frozen pasta. I chuckled nervously. Did they clean the groove of the card reader? The New England Journal of Medicine said it lived on plastic for two days. Is there a smart way to hold my Visa then? The barista at Forge handed me an extra bag of beans from the window. Was it because I was braving the front lines? Or was the roast date long gone?
I don’t feel brave. I feel quite mad. How did it get to this? My boat came from far away. Well, it actually had wings, but you get the point. September 11 was the first day of school. Yes, 2001. The first day of my American dream. America fell apart. And then dismantled the world.
We will have no masks, no gowns, no test kits, no iron lungs. My friend has been in bed, breathing heavily, for the past 10 days now. Someone knew someone who went to a meeting at Biogen.
Now we look back and wonder if those were gentler times. Then, we didn’t put children in cages. We hated from afar. We tried to put everything back together. Were those the golden days? Hope did not have a hashtag then. And everything seemed to crumple again. Like the irises. Gone every year.
I can’t go back to where my boat came from, where it is day even when it is night here. The boats are not allowed to fly anymore. So I WhatsApp everyone. Some like to Telegram. I do not have an Insta account…