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COVID Diaries: Out for an Afternoon Stroll

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Image credit: Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

In the fifth installment of “COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience,” five documentary photographers created art that illustrates this week’s assignment: “The Other Side of the Fence.”

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101.9 WDET presents COVID Diaries: Stories of Resilience.”

Through WDET’s StoryMakers and in partnership with Documenting Detroit, we’ve commissioned five documentary photographers to create a multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus. Over ten weeks, the artists will create work under a given assignment.

Experience the first four chapters.

This week’s assignment: “The Other Side of the Fence.”



The Other Side of the Fence”

Introduction by Courtney Wise Randolph

Click play to listen to Courtney narrate the introduction to Chapter 5 of “COVID Diaries.”

Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

I love writing letters, but before COVID-19, I hadn’t written any in years. I just had a long list of people I meant to write. And by long, I mean three pages.

But the specter of COVID makes everything urgent.

Do I have time to write something profound to everyone on the list? If I scribble more than “I remember you,” “I thank you,” “I love you” — sealed with droplets of water rather than a sliver of spit — will I even get to write every intended letter?

Essentially, I’m functioning between the extremes of fear of dying and full acceptance of my future death. I hope the moment isn’t imminent, but lots of lives were shorter than we’d have liked pre-COVID, too. I felt like I’d escaped an early death when I made it past 20 and 31— the ages my mom’s sisters were when they died — but then COVID took my virile, healthy cousin at 50. If that’s my new number, I’m in a rush to live all the life I was too anxious to live in the last decade. That list of letters I need to write just got longer.

In my haste, I’m making myself extremely uncomfortable by jumping on unscheduled Google Hangouts and Zooms. I’m all up in the House Party app. I’m forcing myself to take opportunities I feel unqualified for, like this one where I’m talking to you.

Whenever I go, I want to be confident in the love of me I’m leaving behind, like Stevie’s been knowing for at least 44 years now.

These tools: the apps, my voice recorder, and the most reliable — pen and paper — are the best ones I’ve got to pierce through walls and remind you that I’m so glad you’re here. Friends from a lifetime ago are friends right now — I love you.

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Chapter Five

Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Rosa María Zamarrón

It’s becoming normal, slowly. Just staying here in the house and learning how to make pasta and not go crazy.”


I just realized, I don’t really know a lot of my neighbors any more.

Because I was looking at all of these houses and just remembering who used to live there. I have no idea who lives there now. A lot of that has to do with the fact that before the pandemic, obviously, I was always just keeping busy. And then now, it’s not like I can go up and hang out with them or anything like that. You’re just kind of keeping to yourself, you’re in the house.

My favorite neighbor, Señora Maria Jimenez.Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

My favorite neighbor, Señora Maria Jimenez.

But I was really happy to be able to go see the neighbor that I do know, Señora Maria Jimenez. She’s one of my favorite people to know, and she’s such a sweetheart, her and her granddaughter. And she had a gift for my mom. So I got to go run over there and just see her for a little bit and chat for a minute and then give my mom the gift that she gave her, which was really nice. 

It’s becoming normal, slowly. Just staying here in the house. And learning how to make pasta and learning how to do other things to keep myself occupied and not go crazy.

I do feel like I’m getting kind of in the habit of doing things here at the house and staying in and kind of keeping to myself and I’m feeling this weird anxiety and fear now about when things start to go back to “the new normal” in terms of work starting and interacting with more people…

It’s just kind of freaking me out a little bit. So, I don’t know.

Rosa

Not many people have been venturing out in my street. I rarely see anyone out. It feels odd because normally there are people walking, working on their yards, kids playing or just commotion happening. Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Not many people have been venturing out in my street. I rarely see anyone out. It feels odd because normally there are people walking, working on their yards, kids playing or just commotion happening.

Ray, our neighbor across the street, was passing out food given to him by a local mosque. We happen to have headed out to take my grandfather on a drive to pass the time. I never really interacted with him before that day. Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET

Ray, our neighbor across the street, was passing out food given to him by a local mosque. We happen to have headed out to take my grandfather on a drive to pass the time. I never really interacted with him before that day.

 

Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Taken by Rosa María Zamarrón for WDET
Bryant Valdez paints to take advantage of the weather at The Alley Project in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Bryant Valdez paints to take advantage of the weather at The Alley Project in Southwest Detroit.

Erik Paul Howard 

I heard somebody this week say that when they see a stranger in public with a mask, it’s almost like the new hug.”


I’m noticing a lot more masks and sure, some places are requiring them, but I also think that in general, the idea is getting around that when you wear a mask, it’s not just about keeping yourself safe, it’s about keeping other people safe.

I heard somebody this week say that when they see a stranger in public with a mask, it’s almost like the new hug. It’s the new smile and wave. It says out loud, without saying anything, that I care about you. And so masks, while they’re a little uncomfortable, are a gesture. They’re a provision, not something that we do for ourselves but something that we do for other people.

— Erik

The Ibarra family in Southwest Detroit is packing in preparation to move amid shelter in place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

The Ibarra family in Southwest Detroit is packing in preparation to move amid shelter in place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Faviola Lopez and her daughter, Gabriela, prepare and sell gift baskets for Mother's Day from home in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Faviola Lopez and her daughter, Gabriela, prepare and sell gift baskets for Mother’s Day from home in Southwest Detroit.

Neighbors enjoy some time in the front yard together, sitting on the steps and working in the garden, amid shelter in place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Neighbors enjoy some time in the front yard together, sitting on the steps and working in the garden, amid shelter in place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Satellite dishes line the roofs of neighbors' homes in Southwest Detroit.Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET
Taken by Erik Paul Howard for WDET

Satellite dishes line the roofs of neighbors’ homes in Southwest Detroit.

 

Laura, my roommate, and I take a stroll around the neighborhood. To make it fun, Laura decides to dress up in fine attire including her wide-brimmed sunhat and glittery high heels. Nobody expects to see anyone all dressed up — it provides for a good entry into conversation with our neighbors. Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

Laura, my roommate, and I take a stroll around the neighborhood. To make it fun, Laura decides to dress up in fine attire including her wide-brimmed sunhat and glittery high heels. Nobody expects to see anyone all dressed up — it provides for a good entry into conversation with our neighbors.

Amy Sacka

It’s sort of like the world is getting a little bit mixed up.”


I live on the east side of Detroit in a nook of a neighborhood called the Berry Subdivision.

So a couple days ago, I got a text from my roommate who had gone out in the morning to walk the dog. And she said “Have you seen the geese on Phil’s roof?” Phil is our next door neighbor. I said “What are you talking about?”

And so I ran outside with my camera and, lo and behold, there were two geese squawking on the top of his roof. It’s sort of like the world is getting a little bit mixed up.

Laura sends me a text that says, “Hey did you see the geese on Phil’s house?” So I run outside to have a look and lo and behold, two geese are chilling out on our neighbor’s roof. It seems fitting for our times to see such a strange scenario, even the geese are having a hard time navigating the world. Strange times, indeed.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

Laura sends me a text that says, “Hey did you see the geese on Phil’s house?” So I run outside to have a look and lo and behold, two geese are chilling out on our neighbor’s roof. It seems fitting for our times to see such a strange scenario, even the geese are having a hard time navigating the world. Strange times, indeed.

My neighborhood is known for being very quiet, but there were a few people out who were doing lawn work. Another guy had just taken his bike out to go for a ride. 

And then we came across a neighbor. Eric and Nichole are just so awesome. And one of the things I love about Eric is he has this awesome Harley, and I always know it’s summertime when I see Eric riding by on the Harley. 

I hadn’t seen them for a while and I had texted him and said “Eric, come out and say hello.”

Amy

My neighbor, Eric Jackson, plays with Laura’s dog Violet. I always know it’s the beginning of summer when Eric rides by my house on his Harley. I love knowing that Eric and his wife Nichole live near me.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

My neighbor, Eric Jackson, plays with Laura’s dog Violet. I always know it’s the beginning of summer when Eric rides by my house on his Harley. I love knowing that Eric and his wife Nichole live near me.

My neighbor, William Robinson, stands on the side of his house. He’s just brought his bike out for the first time this year and is eager to ride it. We live close to Belle Isle, a great place for bike rides, however today it is shut down due to overcrowding. Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

My neighbor, William Robinson, stands on the side of his house. He’s just brought his bike out for the first time this year and is eager to ride it. We live close to Belle Isle, a great place for bike rides, however today it is shut down due to overcrowding.

I live across the street from the river. You can see the high water levels gouging and eroding the land on the shore. I’ve been documenting the effects of climate on our environments. Like COVID, climate change is devouring the fabric of our cities, another thing to worry about this spring.Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET
Taken by Amy Sacka for WDET

I live across the street from the river. You can see the high water levels gouging and eroding the land on the shore. I’ve been documenting the effects of climate on our environments. Like COVID, climate change is devouring the fabric of our cities, another thing to worry about this spring.

I’ve been socially distant from certain neighbors before all of this. In the 'burbs, there’s more space, more room. I like the distanceTaken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

I’ve been socially distant from certain neighbors before all of this. In the ‘burbs, there’s more space, more room. I like the distance

Rachel Elise Thomas

That’s such a juxtaposition. A lot of people in the world are sick right now, but you have all these plants. They’re thriving. They’re growing. And they’re living.”


Blue ribbons tied around an oak tree is a symbol of gratitude and solidarity with health care workers.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

Blue ribbons tied around an oak tree is a symbol of gratitude and solidarity with health care workers.

This particular week, I feel like things are moving fast within my life. Just projects and deadlines, and I keep getting messages and emails I have to respond to in a timely manner and those are the things that make my day go by fast. It’s like how my life was before quarantine.

I photographed the things I photographed for this particular week because I wanted to keep true for my vision of how I view my neighborhood. I decided to have very limited encounters with people, not only to be safe, but also for people to get a glimpse into what my neighborhood is like for me in particular.

I have been attracted to the sky a lot lately. It just looks so vivid and beautiful to me. I just love looking at clouds. It’s so hopeful to me. And especially during this time, I really like the meditation.

Everything looks so attractive right now, and alive. And I think that’s such a juxtaposition… how a lot of things and people in the world are sick right now, or dying, but you have all these plants and vegetation. They’re thriving. They’re growing. And they’re living.

Seems like they’re living better than most.

Rachel

Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Things are looking up… There’s a message and lesson in everything… Better days are coming, I claim that.Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET
Taken by Rachel Elise Thomas for WDET

Things are looking up… There’s a message and lesson in everything… Better days are coming, I claim that.

Open Mail Boxes, to Empty ApartmentsTaken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

Open Mail Boxes, to Empty Apartments

Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

Someone moved in across the hall, because there’s a doormat.”


I finally have a neighbor.Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

I finally have a neighbor.

getting a boostTaken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET
Taken by Darryl DeAngelo Terrell for WDET

getting a boost

It’s my second week in my apartment. My furniture came, so I had to build all of that. But I realized that, I was the first person to move in on my floor, then to find out that I was the first person to move into the building. So it’s been weird. I’ve seen some people moving their stuff in, but my floor is still pretty empty.

I don’t really know my neighbors. I haven’t even seen them. Someone moved in across the hall, because there’s a doormat, but that’s about it. I don’t know. I’m getting used to living on my own, by myself. Yeah, I need for COVID to be over because I’m tired of being in the damn house, isolated by myself.

Darryl

 


COVID Diaries, Exhibition

COVID Diaries is a ten-week multimedia introspective that taps into our shared experience of the novel coronavirus.


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