A Story Told is a Life Lived
My name is Virginia Alicea. I was born in Manhattan, NY, July 1947, from Puerto Rican parents. I am 72 years old, and in this year of 2020 am living through a COVID-19 pandemic. In my entire life, I have never experienced so much grief and isolation as this virus has incurred. The photography class became my way of looking at myself through the lens of a camera during this pandemic. Looking at each photo made the clock stop for that moment and taught me how to successfully handle patience. I learned how to keep my head where my feet were at. The moment to me has been easier to live than a one day at a time philosophy and these photos reflect that.
I have lived alone for many years and have been happy and comfortable with my life. Suddenly, it began to change when the senior centers closed by order of the Department of Aging. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) set guidelines for the general public to protect them from a coronavirus they did not know themselves how to control. Whenever I left the safety of my home, I had to maintain a 6 foot distance from everyone, wear a mask to protect others, and frequently sanitize my hands. Visiting the supermarket became longer than usual. Long lines while maintaining the distance from others and wearing a mask became the rules. I like cooking but the NYC COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution would deliver 5-6 containers of frozen cooked food, a bag of bagels, blueberry muffins and fresh fruits to my door each week.
It is mandatory to wear a mask to ride MTA buses/trains. All the front sections of the buses are closed to the public with chains and clear plastic to protect the driver. I stopped riding the trains but still ride the buses with fear because some people do not believe in wearing a mask for any reason. K-Mart at Bruckner Blvd and Story Ave, in the Bronx, had most of the shelves empty in the Health & Beauty Section. Boots, coats, and sweaters were still on the display racks. In past years the month of May would have had an abundance of bathing suits, sun dresses, flip flops, sandals, and sunscreen lotion ready for the Memorial Day weekend opening at the beaches and swimming pools.
Everyday going to the mailbox in my building has become a ritual of mask, gloves, and hat to stay within the CDC guidelines. Weekly I wash clothes, dust the furniture, sweep and mop the floors. I trim my hair every other week. For entertainment I do puzzles, bake bread, sew curtains, crochet, make plastic canvas projects, pick one or two movies to watch from my DVD collection, and play games installed in the cell/tablet. If my treadmill could talk, it would thank me for using it again. For the possibility of contracting coronavirus, I review the documents (revocable trust, durable power of attorney for health care, power of attorney, will) that might become effective if I am hospitalized or dead.
My son helped me install a video-call application. We have not visited for 4 months so we decided to have the COVID-19 and antibody tests; the results were negative for both. So, on June 4th he came for me to stay at his home in Connecticut for the weekend to take a break from the isolation. Being with my son and outside with all of God’s wonders was all the therapy I needed. I have not cherished a moment in the same way that this pandemic has taught me…staying in the moment as I live and breathe each blessed day.