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Letters From Home: 'Like An Episode Of The Twilight Zone Come To Life'

Burgess_Meredith_Twilight_Zone_1960_0.jpg
Wikipedia
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Mandy Shunnarah can't help but be reminded of her favorite Twilight Zone episode, 'Time Enough at Last,' during these times.

WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we're continuing to answer the question: What has been the most surprising challenge you've faced from physical distancing?

We've already heard from lots of Ohioans about their experiences. Read some more of our favorites below.

Mandy Shunnarah from Clintonville

What I find fascinating about the episodes in The Twilight Zone is that they rarely open with a premise out of left field – rather, they start in a world that’s almost normal with a slight abnormality, then there’s a slow disintegration into madness and abject chaos. Living through a pandemic, with its slow, steady march toward an unknown, dangerous conclusion, feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone come to life.

My favorite Twilight Zone episode is “Time Enough at Last,” in which Henry Bemis, a bespectacled banker who wants nothing more than to read in peace, yet is interrupted at every turn, survives a hydrogen bomb and nearly succumbs to suicide before he stumbles upon the blown-open doors of the town library. Just when he sits down with a book, he trips on the stairs, his glasses go flying and are crushed. He gained the time to read but lost the tool with which to do so.

The more our lives change with the threat of sickness looming, the more I empathize with Henry. The virus gave me time, then broke my metaphorical glasses. I can’t concentrate. My anxiety is more than my medication can manage. Like Henry, it was never loneliness I needed, but solitude – that state of remoteness and seclusion that carries the connotation of peace, an aloneness one desires or at least willingly accepts. As with the H-bomb, there is no peace to be found in a worldwide illness to which no one carries a natural immunity.

I keep waiting for Rod Serling’s voice to boom over the earth in narration, appealing to our humanity and community sense, forcing us to learn something from all this.

Anonymous from Mount Vernon, Ohio

The most challenging obstacle that I’ve faced during quarantine is receiving my treatment from home. I’m in recovery from anorexia nervosa and major depressive disorder. I just got finished with my second inpatient and then partial hospitalization in January. Before the pandemic became an issue, I received treatment several times a week at the hospital through individual DBT therapy sessions with therapists and group therapy sessions.

Now, things are quite different. I have therapy sessions via Zoom and FaceTime. It’s not terrible, but definitely not the same. It’s hard to not be in-person because the topics we are discussing are so vulnerable. Maintaining weight is very important and challenging during anorexia recovery. The doctors aren’t able to keep records of my weight during this time, which puts a lot more responsibility on me to continue maintaining my restored weight.

I’ve had to really encourage myself to continue challenging myself with fear foods. It’s been challenging to work on recovery at home, but I know that I’m lucky compared to many, many people during this difficult time.

Photo of Maggie Spangler attending karate class.
Credit Maggie Spangler
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Karate is just one of the things Maggie Spangler (right) misses.

Maggie Spangler from Westerville

I have been practicing karate for more than a dozen years. The first "open house" class I attended was just to get my children involved, but I felt a surprising connection to karate's intimate challenge of body and mind.

I had lost touch with my body somewhere in the middle years, more focused on children, family and work than on myself as a whole person. I continued to go to class, all the while sure I would be called out one day as an overweight, uncoordinated, incompetent imposter, well past any prime that might have allowed me hope of achieving something other than total humiliation. Instead, with each class I attended, I experienced more encouragement, more belonging, and more grace for the journey.

Karate class, like so much else, is on pause, though we're blessed with the ability to practice alone and connect with each other from a distance. Still, I miss the purposeful act of going to class, of choosing to engage in this challenge yet again with others who have chosen the same. Most of all, I miss being in the midst of the energy created by all those flowers slowly blooming, the energy that elevates each ungainly human into an artist and our striving bodies into art.

Cameron Sharp from Clintonville

My father used to come to our house every week to eat dinner and visit his 3-year-old grandson but, because of the pandemic, they are unable to see one another in the same way. I miss the way both of them would light up when they saw each other, the way my son would run and jump and scream, “Poppy, Poppy, Poppy!!” (his name for my dad). And the way my dad would return this energy in kind, screaming, “Charlie, Charlie, oh Charlie!” while leaning down on his knees to receive a hug absolutely full of love for them both.

It is really something to witness this kind of absolute connection between two people, especially when it is two people you are related to, two people you love so much. I hope every person is able to witness this kind of love at some point in their lives. I hope Charlie and Poppy are able to return to their expression of this love soon. And, although I understand and agree with the need for them to be apart, I hope to see it again soon.

Anonymous

Wearing masks is difficult because the three mask styles I have attach to my ears, so do my glasses and my hearing aids. When wearing a mask, my breath steams my glasses and my hearing aids fall out of my ears.

Photo of young child splashing in puddles.
Credit Anonymous
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"Splashing in puddles."

Anonymous from the West Side

My personal quarantine experience has unfolded in one of those funny, “that-can't-be-true” symmetries we'd like to think happen only in fiction. As the wave of pandemic crested over Ohio in mid-March, I made the totally ordinary and extraordinary discovery that I was pregnant with our second child.

As first big events, then all events, then libraries, schools, and even playgrounds began to close, my own physical and mental condition teetered precariously. I was told to stop working out, to stop lifting anything over 20 pounds (my 3-year-old daughter having well passed that mark), to "rest" (a thing which seemed laughably unavailable).

It has been over a month now and I feel like I am finally making my peace with stillness. That bumpy ride of early pregnancy has become smoother. I've also, thanks to stillness, had the time and space to reflect upon how much of my identity was tied up in my ability to move my body without difficulty, and how often I took such mobility (along with the freedom to visit the library, or sing the morning song in my classroom) for granted.

As I enter the second trimester, and my own physical restrictions are cautiously lifted, it's my best hope that when the same happens for all of Ohio that we can all remember to be grateful.

Rami Ungar from Columbus

I don’t want to get near people if I can help it. Which is ironic, because I also love being around people. Before the pandemic, I wasn’t the world’s biggest social butterfly or always going out on weekends. But when I did go out and socialized, I enjoyed being in a room with people. I liked seeing my friends and family, and occasionally getting a hug, something I feel we could all use more of.

Thanks to COVID-19, my already complicated relationship with the human race has gotten more complicated. I only hope with time it can heal to pre-COVID-19 levels of complexity and I can walk into a theater, a store, or even outside my apartment without worrying what everyone I encounter could be carrying in their lungs and bloodstream.

Carole Dale from Columbus

Dear Mamma, Daddy, Brother,

You have moved on to another heavenly residence, leaving me here alone to face this COVID-19 pandemic. Quarantined in my lovely condo with big windows, to watch a world that has only shadows of the life before. With everything our generations have faced in terms of health scares, polio, HIV, this pandemic is seeking a much larger pool of victims. It feels like some nefarious invisible force is sprinkling this vector of death like a New York City, New Years Eve ticker tape parade! Perhaps this experiment of survival will be our planet's future - mother nature hitting the restart button for civilization to create new values so we can continue.

Of course, crises bring out the best in people. I cry with empathy as Italians sing opera, bang pans every night to say “thank you” to all the frontline warriors working to save others. This praise ritual at 7 p.m. has crossed nationalities because of this pandemic. One of my favorite friends died of the COVID-19, one of the first in the state. His widow left to grieve alone in their big house with no friends to visit.

My spirit likes to take me on fantasy trips when I am sleeping. Last night, she and I sat on the shoulder of the Statue of Liberty. The cities lights were low; the ocean glowed with moonlight stretching her scarf across the water. Liberty said she is working on her promise to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Spirit and I told her we believed she would. Next, we sat atop the Golden Gate Bridge as it shimmered in the night sky, and the wind rocked us as we wished upon the stars.

From sea to shining sea, we stretch our hearts filled with hope and love for the new life that will arrive after the pandemic and fresh wisdom fills the air.

A View from Carol eDale's balcony.
Credit Carol Dale
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A view from Carole Dale's balcony.

Come join our conversation. This week's prompt features the question, What accomplishment are you most proud of lately?

Answer this question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.
WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.