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A bitter spring lies before us

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- Spring is famously sweet here. Daffodils and cherry blossoms paint the land in lush colors.

My March calendar was full of fun: a concert, a bar mitzvah, a birthday dinner, a trip to my college campus in Philadelphia, an English friend coming to visit.

Sigh. The coronavirus changed all that. It came crashing down on the country like the plague. Was it only a week ago that our calendars and worlds turned upside down? How long will we live with a pandemic, burgeoning by the day?

Not even President Donald Trump knows.

Truly, it's like living a kind of social death for all. Schools and workplaces, coffee shops and cafes, airports and train stations, are shuttered -- or nearly so. Most Americans are under virtual house arrest, told to work at home. Students are supposed to learn online.

Online is not the same as real life. I felt this sharply when my college's alumni council meeting was rescheduled from a weekend trip to a six-hour Zoom session. Philadelphia was first to be crossed off the calendar.

 

"Canceled" was the word coming to town.

We're all social animals to some extent. Facebook fades fast for company, and the telephone is no longer in use.

For lonely extroverts like me, sudden isolation at home and "social distancing" when outside are a strain. Psychic pain and suffering are not far behind. A writer needs some solitude, but caffeinated or carbonated conversations also inspire with soul mates and strangers.

The brick Georgetown library, where I give history talks, is closed until April. So is the patisserie down the hill where my friends and I often go. The District of Columbia mayor, Muriel Bowser, ordered restaurants, cafes and bars to stop serving patrons, except for takeaway food.

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Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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