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  • Carmen Graham

Time in the Time of Quarantine

It's unnervingly sunny outside–80 degrees and rising.

There's an unnervingly upbeat 3 year old at my feet, ready for his first walk of the day.

Taken back when parks were a thing. There are no photos of quarantine because it's not cute.

To him, this is what life's meant to me. No weepy goodbye before 9am. No wondering where daddy went. We've been up for 3 hours. Well before the sun decided to cruelly remind us there is no park, no beach, no solace. How do you explain it––that the adults need the screen time so you get screen time, whether you like it or not? How do you explain that those work from home days we used to yearn for we now resent? How do we reconcile that we'd have killed to watch you crawl, walk, say that first word? That instead a stranger sent us a video and we cried in an empty conference room watching again and again. But yet here we are, locked in quarantine with you, wondering how in God's name we'll make it to bedtime. Now, we have the chance to be together–all. the. time.–but we struggle to know you. To know why you're crying or what you like to eat or where you hid your toys from yourself. One could argue that the one thing COVID-19 quarantines has done is force families to coexist in ways they haven't done in 70 years. One could argue we don't know how to exist outside of the comings and goings of our daily lives. One that extends to our children–being shuttled to daycare, activities, or wherever it is they're cared for. One could argue we live well–but it comes at a price. So out we go into the taunting sun. Hair unkept and clothes unmatched. We greet the trucks of the morning. The rocks. The fire engine. The crane. The trees. Again. Same as we did yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. Before we go back to our screens, inevitably. Before we find the next way to spend 8 minute increments. Before your attention span wanes. They say the days go on forever but the years fly by–that you don't get these moments. In your little life, you won't remember the spring and summer you were forced to spend every waking moment with your parents. You won't remember the YouTube videos or the trucks or the trees. Or how goddamn hot it was. But I'll remember. And I'll remember you looking up at me. Wanting nothing more than a walk.

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