The next month will, by definition, be intense: isolated and constrained in space, accentuated by the strain of illness or joblessness or the potential for them. There’s really no way this won’t be a time etched into everyone’s memory for the rest of their lives — where the streets of major cities turn into the almost soundless retreats of daytime walkers. And just as you might be able to map out in memory your childhood bedroom, wherever you are right now and remain, this image and the everyday dynamic in that space will likely live forever.
But, paradoxically, these experiences are hyper-individualized. Can you have a true, collective experience when the central vividness and intensity of the experience (the people, the place) will vary so much between any two homes?
If you’ve talked over text or phone with people in slightly different circumstances than your own the last week, you can maybe feel some of the little fault lines and frustrations, even in the opening phases. People at home with young children will never know what it’s like to live alone during this period, and people who live alone will never know what it’s like to be a pair limited by health or age in venturing much of anywhere. The total lack of a quiet, ordered moment free from demand, and the unending stretch of silent hours can’t really be alike in shared, cultural memory. It’s this weird distillation of the individual experience — the same but incomparable — during a heightened period that we’re all living concurrently.