Superheroes in the Time of Coronavirus

It’s in the way it feels to be out on the ghost town streets, patrolling, dressed up as a superhero and handing out food and supplies while infrastructure shuts down one step at a time, and the city gets quiet by degrees. It’s in seeing the way the sky’s colors shift, the spectrum altered, and seeing and helping the same people but recognizing the shift that’s happened all around us. It’s in passing out and applying hand sanitizer, and keeping recommended distance, and realizing that I always thought something like this would happen in my lifetime, but I didn’t know when. It’s in reading up on the spread, and vectors, and risk factors, and adjusting patrol style to account for social distancing and avoiding large crowds. It’s seeing that just about everyone is inside, except for those who have no inside to go to and are stuck, now with even less recourse than before, stuck because of a fearful line of thinking that excludes and separates, with gutted shelves and more supplies sitting somewhere “just in case,” and it’s not that I don’t understand that you can’t pour from an empty cup, I do, but I’m literally watching as our most vulnerable population is left behind. I divvy out MREs and supplies, meet up with my patrol partner and try to make sense of global pandemic with him, going out just about every night now for outreach patrol, and often feeling the weight of this thing, this boulder for Sisyphus. But I still suit up, and put on a smile, and meet people where they are, like I always have. I allow myself to feel this strain, this stress, just a bit before going out and doing it all over again. Before it was just the aches and pains of carrying food and supplies every night, then the mental strain of having to put myself in danger, breaking up fights, de-escalating situations. Now it’s an existential threat, something that’s already tearing at our social fabric and spreading panic. I remind myself and others that in times like these, we especially need to remain calm and look out for others, that we are defined not by what we do when situations are ideal but by what we do when we are tested. What we do now matters. It creates a ripple effect down the chain of causation, on and on into a future we cannot see but which we are constantly creating with our choices. Let’s make these deaths matter. Let’s do what we can to create a better future the only way possible–together.


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