June 20, 2020

A Grand Reopening

After three months of lockdown, New York state is set to begin its "reopening" just as the summer solstice arrives. The details of this reopening are complicated... so much so that I don't really know where to begin describing it. For me, personally, it means I'll be able to schedule a haircut pretty soon, and that my deferred dentist appointment from two months ago can likely take place now. But restaurants are fuzzy on whether you can eat indoors or only outdoors; most businesses are still not going to be open for in-store shopping; and places like grocery stores will continue to require mandatory face coverings with at least six feet of social distancing at all times.

Despite the continued uncertainty, even as we try to revert back to the normalcy we left behind in March, I’ve continued recording these days with my camera. In total, I’ve captured 3,478 pictures over the past 84 days, documenting the transition from winter's dull, grey tones through spring's early splashes of color... now culminating with the start of summer and all of it's beautifully saturated greens and blues. This project has spanned the entirely of the state's closure, and the images I've taken over the last four weeks have been some of my personal favorites from the collection.

In all actuality, it’s practically impossible to take a bad picture when the colors and the light are as lovely as they are right now in New York. But after three months of making these pictures, the combination of the state's declarative reopening with the arrival of summer seemed to be the perfect time for concluding this project... Even if the cards aren't stacked in our favor for a swift return to how things were before.

While certain aspects of life are beginning to resemble times before COVID-19, all is not the same elsewhere in the country. Just as true summer arrives, southern states - after initiating their own re-opening protocols - are already starting to show a re-emergence of Coronavirus outbreaks. I won't offer any conjecture on how things will unfold from here. Instead, I'll just keep taking things one day at a time, and I'll reflect on these images as a long-term reminder of what times were like during the first three months of this life-changing event.

When I think about my pre-COVID life, my memories are clouded by endless hours in the office, time away from home while traveling for work, and just a general sense of never really spending any appreciable time at home. Here, now, in my post-COVID life, things couldn't be more opposite. People talk about the state's grand reopening like a proclamation of things getting back to normal... But I just can't really see things getting back to "normal" any time soon. When I look back through this catalog of photos captured during the lockdown, I'm not really sure I want it to.

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