The Desperate Cling

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The Desperate Cling

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When the pandemic hit the small town I resided in March of 2019, the aftershock evoked a hopelessness that was unexpected. Growing up learning “stop, drop, and roll,” I presumed catching on fire was going to be much more problematic than pathetic trauma that has consumed my generation. In seventh grade, my school spent the day watching planes hit the towers on 9/11. Then that night watching the strength of my single mother dwindle while recording the news on VHS tapes. I believed my resilience created from the past had prepared me to get through this pandemic. I was much less resilient than I had anticipated. I worked as a barista in a grocery store and had seen the hatefulness and treatment this once friendly town provided. Before moving to this small town I would visit in the summer and found it difficult to understand how perfect strangers could treat each other like lifelong neighbors. The cloud that had fallen upon this town was shocking. 6am when the grocery doors opened I would watch what seemed to be half the town race with carts, baskets and bags to the designated “hot spots.” (Toilet paper, rice, beans, and bread) I watched as my co-workers were interrogated by their neighbors over product. My coffee kiosk was quiet compared to what it had been and that gave me time to observe the change in demeanor from my co-workers as well. The emotional exhaustion of their own fears along with half of the town coming in to dump their fears and baggage onto them as well; The physical exhaustion of working 60-70 days, pushing product and covering shifts. It was a mad house. It was hard to see the toll on such a warm and friendly town. Customers, co-workers, strangers would indulge dark, inappropriate and ugly opinions I had never expected, especially not in this sleepy town. I could feel the darkness and fear of other steeping into myself. It became difficult to be patient and interact with others. By the end of the day I would be so emotionally spent from pushing myself to be a courteous light for a beacon of all that sadness. I was bitter for this, finding it difficult to cling to my hope in humanity. I wasn’t anticipating this type of reaction from society when faced with such a colossal disaster like the world had reacted after 9/11. So in a way, I think I was resilient to the events but I was unprepared for the worlds reaction.

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This item was submitted on October 6, 2021 by Arynn Hernandez Hawkins using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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