Written 28 April, 2020.
From Shelley in New York:
To answer some of yr questions, Food is not a problem in the US if you are a middle class household. We hear farmers must throw out crops because restaurants, schools and corporations are shuttered so there is no buying food in bulk from those sources. There may be pork shortages as the major pork packing Companies had massive COVID outbreaksThe bottom line is if you are, as we are, a 2 person middle class household, you will have good nutrition but the price to pay could rise A lot. But if you are lower middle class or at poverty level that price spike may be enough that you will not have the money to buy enough to eat.
Now, The food bank lines in NYC have quadrupled and at times they run out before everyone gets fed. There is also not enough social distancing possible at the food banks, while one waits outside the fscilities so I can only think infection will be greater. Eating and the risk to do for those living paycheck to paycheck ( many middle class families as well have not been able to accrue savings), is a serious problem, esp in a country with disgraceful lack of social services. It is the shame of our affluent nation. A Dickensian ruthlessness coupled with sadism has exploded in our land.
A and I don’t have this food problem; of course we give to the charities supporting the food banks, but so much more is needed than what charities can provide.For A and myself, the getting of food routine is only different in that we don’t go into stores but order via amazon and instead of hours to get deliveries it can take a day or two days to fill our orders and everything we wanted may not be on it. The disinfecting then washing protocol is the same as Australia’s so nothing new there.
Please tell me why, so I might understand better, why the slight variations in our protocols over time is what you want me to share? For me, they are time consuming and necessary but not at all interesting to scrutinize. I am not by nature of a practical or domestic mind. I do love intricacies but where I love to discover and record them are in extreme close ups of beauty and ugliness and I. the erratic pulse of human emotion. While I am doing what for me has always been the drudgery of survival, Imy spirit is in rage and rebellion against it.
If I am lucky, while I do the cleaning, cooking, vacuuming dutifully and properly, I can escape the attention to its mechanics and my own resentment at having to do it all, I am running somewhere else in my mind, somewhere that has wings and impossible color and more beauty than I can bear. Ihave always been like this but COVID magnifiés my responses. Oh Sue, I could tell you more about my inner life and the inner lives of whales and octopuses or even how I imagine the inner life of this monstrous virus, than I can tell you about everyday life here in New York. I know those things are crucial for others to know about;, but dearest Sue, no matter what I do cleaning, foraging, cooking, I am at the same time somewhere else or longing to be. I guess that is the only thing I can write about truly and honestly because it is the only thing I ever have had words for in my life, because it is my life.
I’m so moved by it that I lie awake thinking of her daily surrounded by death, on the streets, in Central Park, gazing out at the hospital out the window. I remember once staying in New York, feeling very lucky because I in the home of Julia Miles who was producing the play of Leaning Towards Infinity in a workshop, and as a sleepless, jet-lagged stranger, I leaned over her balcony, possibly 50 floors up, and gazed into the dark trees of Central Park. The air was icy: it was just beginning to snow, that white silence. Suddenly from somewhere the shadows under them, a voice rose up, calling into the air:
“What about me? What about me?”
I Then I think: I’ll ring her and that’ll be some comfort to us both. So I ring, at 4 am my time and early evening, her time. We talk so long, the sun rises over the water and the growing light in the sky here matches the dying light in the sky between the skyscrapers outside her windows.
And I apologise from my heart, for often falling into silence, for taking this beautiful friendship for granted. And she accepts my apology, I think from the bottom of her heart. In the time of the plague, I’m learning to take nothing for granted.