Change It Like A Puzzle

There’s something almost unthinkable about the coronavirus effect on reality right now. As I write, locally, schools and libraries are closed for the next few weeks at the very least, my various employers are all working from home or in the process of setting up plans to — something particularly amusing to me, who’s been doing that all along, I confess — and the grocery store shelves are creepily empty, thanks to panic-buying and people preparing for something akin to an apocalypse.

And maybe they’re not overreacting, as much as my brain like to pretend. The spread of COVID-19 is such that, even when it was, in theory, outside the US — although, let’s be honest, it was certainly here before that was officially the case; I’m genuinely half convinced that’s what my “mystery viruses” from January and February actually were at this point — it still had a scale and a speed that felt fictional in its power. “How can something so big move so fast?” as the cliche dialogue put it.

The first point where I really felt it, the impact it was having, wasn’t when I was sick, oddly enough. At that point, I was just sick and trying to get through it but, generally keeping my spirits high. No, it was just after, when making the decision whether or not to attend Emerald City Comic Con in what would’ve been a couple of weeks. By then, the virus was clearly rampant in Seattle, where the con was to be held, and I kept thinking that, if I went, I would almost certainly get infected, given how weak my immune system was at the time. The forward planning of, if you do this, you will get sick was surreal mental math that brought home just what was going on.

Somehow, still, I didn’t expect the breadth of what’s happened in response. Conferences and conventions cancelled, sure, they’re gatherings of thousands of people. But movies being pulled from release, the widespread shutdown of businesses and workplaces, the slow but steady removal of the everyday that shrinks what we think of as life to just what’s inside our homes…? With each step, it feels more serious and important, and I get that little bit more scared.

I should probably wash my hands more.

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