“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Skokie, Illinois” by Mona Gene

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Little library by the Chicago River, photo by S.L. Wisenberg

It’s a pivotal time in the world. We pivot from outer to inner, from new to old: bringing back the old photos, calling old friends. After all, these days it’s not at all strange to call an old friend, when, earlier, people would think, “How strange she is to call me after all this time not speaking, and to say nothing in particular. What a strange girl she turned out to be.” Or at least this is what I imagine people would say about me after they hung up. I imagine, though, that most people believe me strange, and I, them–for certain. But today, nothing seems strange. Now, people talk about all kinds of things without reservation, which, before they would think twice if not thrice about speaking to. And well, because we are all living it together and so no need to keep up with the Joneses–or if you are it might just be about who got through to the unemployment office first or how few times you went grocery shopping over the last month.

We are talking about our lack of consistent showering, we are talking about our addictions and telling people our feelings. I have even gotten a love confession these weeks from someone I knew in a few courses from four years back. We are realizing that we have nothing to hide–unlike before when we put only our best selves into public and sugar-coated, if not hid, the rest.

We were lost. We were lost in the money, in the stocks, in the brands and the trips. We were lost. We were searching but in the wrong drawer.  Now amid this horror we are found. We are connecting to our bodies and to our hearts. We are turning on our ovens for the first time and realizing they are more than just great storage. We are waking up late. We are taking days and nights for thought and contemplation–for reading and feeling rather than going and doing. We are reconnecting with lost versions of ourselves and we are letting the Earth breathe again. We are pivoting towards our humanity and pivoting away from unsustainable rampant capitalism, pivoting towards our nature as humans- loving, thinking, creative humans. And I love us for it.



Mona Gene is a passionate writer and environmental activist with a master’s in Sustainable Development, having last year completed her studies abroad in the Netherlands. Her writing focuses on the human condition and the state of society today, drawing additionally from her own life experiences and emotions.