Shutter Click

I used to take a lot of photos using an SLR. And not a digital one. The sort you wound a strip of film through. I was not being pretentious, I didn’t have the funds for a brand-new to the market digital camera and both my uncle and father were avid photographers, taking selfies decades before it was a word. They showed me how to compose a shot, how to thread the film perfectly every time, how to coax a person into smiling at the right moment. Everything short of a darkroom. My dad even HAD a darkroom, we just didn’t get that far before I switched to digital.

I do more mental snapshots these days. Even the just-as-good camera on my phone sits unused most days. I’d rather live life in front of the lens. This period of shut-in has given me more time to take those snaps of my family, relaxing, cooking, bemoaning the state of the world. I don’t think any of us, you and me, all of us, are going to forget the months we were turned inward, looking at ourselves and breathing each other’s air.

So here’s what life looks like on a typical day at our house. I’m working at a at a set-up in the basement that my wife surprised me with after a long day of zoom meetings on my lap using a pillow and book to get the screen to the right level. There’s an old TV on the desk serving as a large monitor, a lamp with an Eiffel tower base, a jar of pens, a pad of sticky notes, and a picture of 7 year-old RR in front of a cornfield.

My wife is running on the treadmill, her feet banging into the belt quickly, fleet-footed. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It reminds me that the basement isn’t a basement in the cellar sense of the word. Yes, the ceiling is unfinished, and some of the walls are cinder block but some of them are finished and the floor is carpeted. There are full-sized windows looking out at the above ground side of the basement. It’s cozy down here and RR has a workspace as well. There’s a calendar on the wall, a clock, a set of shallow drawers to store her school work.

Outside the full-size windows is a bush I planted not long after we moved in. It’s sometimes a nuisance when I don’t trim it (what bush isn’t) and it obscures some of the afternoon light. But for two weeks in April, these two weeks, it blooms the most incredible smelling blossoms. The scent drifts through the window and freshens the air. Soon the flowers will fall but a nearby lilac is moving in to take its place, fragrance wafting through the window. I could ask for worse days to be trapped here.

Upstairs, on a non-school day like today, RR is drawing in her room, deep into stuffed animal pretend, or immersed in a game on the iPad. Yes, she is. And I won’t feel bad about it. We have to continue to work even though she’s on Spring Break, whatever that is. This afternoon, we’ll take a walk to find the things she has put on a scavenger hunt list. It’s sunny. Warm. Spring at its finest.

I’m talking with friends, texting my sisters and mom. Mom won’t stay inside, my sisters fall on the non-plussed to terrified spectrum. I know I should call my mother but you and I both know I don’t need that stress. At times when she’s me (and my sisters) the most is the time I need her the least. The washer and dryer accompany my typing. The dogs are upstairs hoping for a walk even though one is too old to make it very far. We’ll cook dinner together tonight, maybe sit on the bench out front to wave to passers-by.

It’s pandemic life.

2 Responses

  1. Honestly, the most normal we get every day is when we sit out in the front yard in the evening and neighbors walk by and we get little visits in. That was a habit before all this and it’s just so damn nice to still have it.

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