The other day I sat in a sunbeam with a Melville shop owner, listening to his stories. I’d planned on blogging about the hood and our many ups-and-downs over the last few decades. About how he sees a future Melville.
But I got distracted.
Distracted by the teen on a skateboard, speeding and kick flipping his way down 7th, his hair flying free in the wind.
We’ll be okay, I thought.
Distracted by the street seller who used to sell sun hats and is now selling face masks. The one who when I said: “No thanks,” offered me cigarettes instead.
We’ll definitely be okay, I thought.
Distracted in general by the amount of people on the street, walking slowly and not in any hurry. Because even though there’s a curfew, time is blurry these days.
On my way home, I felt quite upbeat. Until I walked past a queue of hungry people waiting in line for food parcels.
The line stretched along two blocks.
What do you say to a line of hungry people as you walk by with your dog?
“Are you scared of the Corona?” a woman called out to me.
“Oh god I am,” I replied. “What about you?”
She answered with a little laugh. I think that laugh said there are so many things to be scared of right now.
Starvation being one of them.
I tried to engage a bit more. “Where do you live, what’s it like, are you coping?” She had a few small children with her.
But the truth is, it’s very hard to talk behind masks. I felt extremely uncomfortable, walking by. And I am sure she was humiliated standing in line.
She was still in her dressing gown.
I came home anxious. I had forgotten the free and easy skateboarder. And the kind-of -fun cigarette seller. I could only see the queues.
And think: “I’m not sure we will be okay.”
But then I walked again today. The sun is shining. A few rollerbladers whizzed by. I bumped into friends.
“Hey, hi, it’s so good to see you.”
Some people carried take-away coffee. And some of the ‘Closed’ signs have been replaced with ‘Fresh bread” signs.
The cigarette sellers are doing a roaring trade.
It’s almost normal.
Except next Thursday the food parcels will be given out again.
Next Thursday the hungry will come out the shadows again.
Next Thursday we will be confronted by reality, again.