It’s the end of August and I received my cap and gown in the mail today for a graduation that was supposed to take place in May. This is the year of Corona though and the pandemic has stole away many lives and dreams away from everyone. A day filled with close proximity to friends and families is not considered responsible now and for over six months we have been anticipating that now we would all be ok. We are worse than ever with the number of cases, which brings many questions to my mind that I believe deserve answers.
What have we been doing with our time?
Well first off we haven’t been going to the beach like some would think, most of us have stayed home. The beaches were one of the first and most tragic things that we have lost to the government mandates. They allow for access only for exercise, which created essentially the exercise police. Sunbathing is strictly prohibited, sunlight is healthy and is essential in maintaining health. Personally I like to go to the beach and write or draw by myself. Surfers and beach goers have been ticketed. It is very taboo to deny access to the ocean especially to surfers. I get no groups, but there is so much beach here in Hawaii especially now without all of the visitors. The lure of sunshine and sand is heartbreaking under a lockdown. Many folks are worried about depression and the longterm effects of isolation that has been implemented by government mandates. I worry about a quality of life in which it is against the law to go to the beach. There is room for social distancing on the beach, let us enjoy a little aloha by the sea.
Some had to work still. Construction work was considered essential, but what was the threshold that determined what jobs were essential? The roads are still in terrible shape, the rail is not finished, and we have a shortage of care facilities for people who contract the virus. What job was more essential than those? The nurses and doctors spent hours and days upon days researching and anticipating when Hawaii was going to spike. Now they are tired, stressed out, and low on supplies. Was six months not long enough to prepare for what they knew was unavoidable. Unemployment is completely unsustainable currently for both the government and for the workers, the economic fall out has hit gig workers particularly. The film industry packed up and flew back to LA and such, other entertainers hustle side jobs and wait for tourism to open back up. There is uncertainty with the tourism industry though and a fear that it will not bounce back to the booming economy it was in a era of mass tourism and instagram influencers, some are hoping for a slower more lucrative tourism industry here. A new tourism industry that caters to visitors who come to spend a little more for the experience. Hawaii needs visitors that spend a little more time and spend a little more money in the right places. This time has been useful for some businesses to break away from the brick and mortar to the virtual. Stepping into the 21st century with video teleconferences hosted from workers’ home cuts down on traffic and has the potential to remain an option for some after the pandemic is over.
Other’s spent hours shopping at large corporate warehouse stores and the local grocery store. When the government ordered everyone to stay at home the exception was made for grocery stores and pharmacies. For the first few weeks it was mostly stock up buying, then when folks still couldn’t got to their work or to the beach they just started going shopping everyday. In the meantime the government says masks are unnecessary and to save them for first responders, a month later you should cover your face, an old t-shirt wrapped around your face is ok. Now fast forward 5 months and even when I am in my car alone with the windows up I feel shamed from drivers who are wearing their masks in the same circumstances. Don’t get me wrong I like wearing my mask out in public, but I will be fine by myself in and on my personal property without one and I will kindly ask that you wear yours too around others. What really gets me about the stores is when we were supposed to be social distancing the stores put pallets in the middle of the isles to make even less room to travel down the already tight isles. I don’t even care that they got rid of the baggers and check out clerks for the most part because I am particular about my groceries and rather not have an extra set of fingers touching the food. What I do care about is it seems daily now in the news an old mom n pop business is closing its doors, either from slow business or from not being able to comply with the new mandates that seem to come out everyday.
This is a special time in the world and many of are experiencing revelations. My experience is not unique, I share the same disappointment with millions who feel guilty about being pissed because something they worked their entire life for was canceled due to Corona Virus. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college. The high school students graduating this year are 9-11 babies, there is something eerie about that. I won’t get to walk but as soon as it’s feasible I think we should have some cap and gown parties. We should celebrate when this is over, honor the lives we lost, congratulate the heroes, and celebrate the life ahead of us.