August 19, 2020

“There is so much Space”—On COVID-19 & Clearing Out.

We have amassed a pile of second-hand books.

What started as a small box full has become three crates. Some have been taken, but mainly they are deposited here. We have become a depository for unwanted books on our front lawn.

In this period of lockdown, our village Facebook group has become a forum for posting unwanted objects—for free—dusty from sheds and garages. Camp beds with spiders in their folds; exercise bikes, screens not working (might just need new batteries); bits of wood; an odd few tiles; and bed frames (mattress not included).

For as long as I can remember, we have been in a state of just-in-case. Retaining and holding open possibilities.

But in lockdown, people want to purge.

To breathe.

To swing their arms in empty, open space. Back to basics.

(What are the basics?)

We’ve turned our dining table and pressed one side of it—the side where visitors once sat—against the wall. We’ve made room for our morning exercising. We eat staring at the wall, each one of us at right angles to the others. We take up the only three seats that can be reached, around a table that has seated nine in another world. In a world where elbows could press elbows, where plates could wobble over corners, glasses chinking. Whose is this? A sip. Not mine. A swap. Another bottle opened.

Chatter over chatter.

In a world where there was overlapping, now there is only open space. Open fields and waterfalls in place of crowds at concerts, in IKEA, at the bar, on the first day of the sales.

I crave squashing, squeezing, pressing—the skin and sweat of strangers.

No one’s keeping old books. The garages are empty. There is so much space.


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