Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.
What can I say about the photograph above?
I need to preface this article by stating that I’m writing this content at 10:35pm Pacific time with only 2.5 hours of sleep since the day before. If you include the body-automatic-shut-down nap that I took an hour ago, perhaps I’m running on 3.5 hours of sleep. Either way, I’m trying to compose my latest message under a fog of exhaustion.
I’m tired for a number of reasons, but going into them all will take away from what I would like to express for this week’s feature photo. I will likely enter a realm of slumber immediately after posting this, which I would like to do today. I want to prevent missing my entry for the 26th week of the year, which would make me consistent with my self-assigned challenge for exactly six months.
We’re at the midway point already this year. Six months into 2022. Six months until 2023.
I spent part of the day speaking with some of my most genuine friends (so not a lot of people). One of these friends informed me a few days ago that she had contracted Covid. Because she had to go into immediate quarantine, our original plans to take a walk in one of Seattle’s many beautiful parks this weekend had to be canceled. Alternatively, we spoke at length on the phone today, just getting caught up with our respective lives.
When we discussed *how* she got Covid, she was able to pinpoint the time it could have happened, whom may have transmitted it, and who else was around her at the time. The painful part of my friend’s story is that she is the mother of a precious little girl who will be four years of age later this year. My friend’s quarantine includes not being able to touch or be physically near her own daughter for the very first time since she came into this world. I don’t even know how one copes with that — to not be able to touch a person you love even though that person lives in your house and resides in your immediate vicinity.
My friend is originally from the United Kingdom, and she has a sharp wit and humo(u)r about her that gets me to chuckle heartily whenever we converse. The fact that she can still manage to find humo(u)r and laugh, even in self-deprecation, is an endearing trait that’s part of her personality.
The fact of the matter is this — my friend contracted Covid for the first time two and a half years into the pandemic. She had taken all the precautions and proper steps for the same amount of time and she still got it. Oddly, it sounds like a lot of people who managed to evade Covid in 2020 and 2021 have been accosted by the virus this year. I now remain one of the few individuals in my network who has not gotten it, thankfully. I’ve had a few allergies, sniffles, and two very painful styes under my right eyelid (I know that’s specific, isn’t it?) — but no Covid.
This week’s picture was captured during one of my enjoyable bike rides along Beach Avenue adjacent the Puget Sound in Seattle last summer. America’s Independence Day had already come and gone a week prior, but I couldn’t help but stop Melbourne (that’s my bike’s name) when I came across this particular scene. It appeared to be two American flags, one on a pole, the other painted or recreated on the garage door of one’s residence.
Fortunately, I had Alpharetta (my smaller Sony A6000 travel camera that I use for my “Adventures in Photocycling“) with me. I caught a few images across the street from the house. While doing so, a pedestrian and her dog entered my camera’s frame, both of whom completed my composition.
Upon a closer look, it turns out the flag on the garage door is a type of sculpture made of, possibly, a plastic or synthetic material that is also waterproof. I didn’t go on the property to look. (I’m still a black man in this country and wouldn’t try that because I value my life). However, when post-processing my images at home, I could see that the flag was artwork. There was a sign next to the sculpture that said “Beach Drive Artwork, ‘Covid Retrospective’ by R. Winter”.
Clearly, the sculpture was meant to be viewed and/or appreciated by anyone who happened to pass by and see it, which would likely be hundreds of people since Beach Drive is frequented by pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, and drivers alike. It’s one of the most scenic drives within the Emerald City so this artwork would be difficult to overlook.
It appeared that R. Winter created a timeline of the pandemic on the flag that he or she created, indicating events beginning back in January 2020 to the present day (which would have been July 2021 at the time). Notably, it indicated the number of Covid deaths in the US and other events, such as the mandated quarantines early on in 2020, the time when masks were mandated, the spikes in people getting Covid nationwide, etc. It was a very creative, artistic, and fine illustration detailing events in America since the pandemic began. I remember the very first cases in America began in the the Seattle suburb of Kirkland in late January 2020.
The country — and the rest of the world — has not been the same since.
I do get angry when I still hear people say that Covid is a hoax created by China or created by western governments. None of that makes any sense to me given what we, as a planet (not just America), have gone through collectively. It’s a heartless and thoughtless comment.
I suppose that’s my point this week, given that my friend just got Covid and has experienced strange reactions in her body that she could not fathom a week ago. No matter how much people wish to move on from the pandemic, the pandemic has not moved on from us or the world by any means. People still die from this virus daily. I don’t know how we can so easily try to shift away from something that has affected the entire planet — and is not done.
The title for this article is borrowed from a line of one of my favorite French pop songs, “Voyage Voyage” by Desireless. The artist sings about traveling to foreign lands throughout the world and the experience of seeing different people of different cultures. Her description is so rich, illustrative, and indelible that, in the chorus, the words “Et jamais ne revient” are uttered. In the context of the song about wondrous travel, this means, “Never going back” or, more acutely, “Never to return.” The narrator resigns that she is never going back home.
Life in January 2020 will never be our reality again. I think I accepted that when my employer at the time told me to pack up my cubicle and start working from home. I never saw my supervisor or coworkers in person again (to this day). Perhaps, I have a better tolerance to accept a change in variables when it occurs suddenly, but I do get annoyed at the effort to try to erase or overlook what is now 1,000,000+ deaths in America from Covid and the quest to get everyone back in the office spaces breathing in each other’s air and being in each other’s faces. It feels incredibly coerced and unnatural to some degree. It was natural in January 2020. It is not that natural in July 2022.
I know my friend will recover and be reunited with her daughter in several days after her Covid testing turns out to yield a negative result, but I sympathize with these current days when she must now wait. Fortunately, her husband and daughter have come up with creative ways to communicate together but I can’t imagine what she’s going through, despite her impeccable sense of humo(u)r and resilience.
This is our reality today in 2022. Can we really not accept it yet?
Et jamais ne revient.
26 articles down for the TIAA challenge. 26 remain!
Thought-provoking words. Strong artwork within your powerful artwork. I wish your friend good health!