Living through History

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When I was a kid, learning about history in class, I always wondered if the common people living through the events we were studying had any idea of the significance of what they were living through. How did they feel about it? Were they afraid? To them, it was an uncertain time, but many trudged about their everyday lives anyway. What was the alternative? To us, it’s history. We are safe from the distance of time. Its just a story on pages we are supposed to learn from. A story we know the ending to. But what happens when the story is ours and its still being written?

Jan 1st 1919 Reading Eagle

Coronavirus; its the last word you probably want to hear right now, I know. It’s infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. If you have a television or smart phone you can’t escape it. Everyone has an opinion on it. The vocal population seems to be in two camps; “it’s no big deal” or “run for the hills!”. Here at Berks Nostalgia we stand on neither soap box. Our goal is to be an impartial observer of the effects this is having on our society as it’s happening. After all this can go one of two ways; remembered in a cheeky, Y2K-esqe “WOW remember how crazy everyone got?” way, or something that changes the very fabric of our society. Hopefully it’s the former.

Everything seems to have escalated so quickly its left us feeling surreal. Just over a week ago the first confirmed case of the virus in Pennsylvania surfaced and business was as usual. As of today there are documented 70+ cases, mostly right next door in Montgomery County. Public schools are closed. Colleges are going completely online classes. Events are cancelled. Companies are making people work remotely. International travel to many countries is banned. Entire national sports leagues are pausing their seasons. “Non-essential” businesses are being ordered to close. People are hoarding supplies. This level of disruption to every day life and business has never really been experienced before. No one alive today has ever experienced anything like what our society is now experiencing on a country-wide level.

The past few days, occasionally my chest will feel tight and I’ll find it hard to take a breath. For a split second I worry that I’m infected. Then I realize it’s likely just my anxiety spiking again. How can it not? Every second I’m being bombarded by the next doomsday headline. There is an air of uncertainty. The information floating around is conflicting and confusing. Unlike everyone else on the internet I’m not an expert, just a regular schmuck who cares about her family and friends and doesn’t want to see anyone suffer.

To be honest I have no idea how this will pan out. I don’t have any medical advice or tips to get through it that you haven’t already heard a thousand times. I think back to my adolescent empathy to people who lived through other scary situations in the past. I come to realization that kids will be learning about this too someday in history class. Maybe one of them will think of people like you and me. It’s the human condition, after all.

I went outside yesterday. It was a beautiful late-winter Sunday. Around 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The birds are chirping, trees are growing buds, daffodils are poking through the ground. Life is starting anew again, as it does every spring. As I stood there basking in the warm sun I took a deep breath of fresh air and thought, “how can the world possibly be ending on such a perfect day?”.

Oct 27th, 1918 Reading Eagle

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