Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your profession/involvement in the community?
I’m a graphic designer. I work with local nonprofits and businesses. I co-organize the Unofficial Handlettering Society of Silver Spring.

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
Before the shelter in place order, I was usually home a lot anyway. At first, it felt okay. Now, I really miss the things that I could do that would help me cope with my regular anxiety—like being out in the world, or doing something that’s surprising. Before, if I was really bummed out, I would always go to the thrift store and see if something would surprise me or make me feel excited. I’m now coping with more anxiety, but I have less ways to distract myself and lessen my anxiety.
 
Are you working more or less?
I would say I’m working slightly less. It’s about the same, but because I’m not commuting to any in-person meetings or workspaces, work ends up taking less of my day. 
 
What are you most afraid of?
I’m part of the immunocompromised community. I’m really afraid that we won’t figure out how to make it safe for immunocompromised people to be out in the world. Some days, I have it in my head that we’ll figure out how most people can live their lives and operate safely, but I won’t be in that group. I’m afraid that I will always be self-quarantined. I don’t know if that’s a realistic fear or not, but it is on my mind.
 
What are you most hopeful for?
I’m hopeful that people will get to appreciate in-person interactions more. That when this over, our interactions with each other will become more enjoyable because we’ll all know and remember the times when we couldn’t be in each other’s company. I think people will appreciate each other more and be more aware of how we are all connected.
 
What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
The most challenging part for me is not knowing when it will end, which I think is true for a lot of people. I feel confident in my resilience—to a degree. When I hear people talking about long timelines, I just don’t know how someone is supposed to handle that.
 
Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
I have been able to use telemedicine, which I hadn’t done before, just to check in with my doctors. I really have enjoyed that because I don’t have to make a whole day out of an appointment. Before Coronavirus, that whole process would bum me out because of how much time it would take, but now it takes much less time.

Also, I’m really excited by new things I can do online that I couldn’t do before. For example, my friend who is in England is now doing her yoga classes online. I’ve been able to participate in her class. People are expanding in ways that we didn’t think possible before. As challenging as this is, it is presenting us with new opportunities.

What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
I hope we learn that everyone matters in some way. Everyone is contributing. 

How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
I’m trying to stay focused on keeping up with healthy routines, like eating a balanced meal or exercising regularly. I’m staying connected with people, even if I feel like crap. And I’m trying to do more things that are nourishing and less things that are stressful. Online therapy and shopping to support my favorite local businesses have really helped.
 
When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
I would say that it feels like you don’t know what to expect, and it’s the little things that we missed the most. We’re really missing out on that ecosystem of local businesses and people in the community. You have to really dig deep as a person, as an individual, to remember what matters and how to stay optimistic. 

What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
I want people to know that there are more immunosuppressed and immunocompromised people than you think, and that it’s important to respect people’s boundaries if they ask you to step back.

Jonna Huseman is a family photographer who serves Silver Spring and beyond. During the COVID-19 crisis, she is using her free time to document the lives of friends and neighbors living through the pandemic.

Author’s note: Over the coming days and weeks I am documenting the lives of dozens of members of the Silver Spring and Takoma Park community. My goal is to talk to teachers and students, religious leaders, small business owners, frontline workers, parents, elected leaders, and private citizens. I want to learn about our collective hopes and dreams, our biggest challenges, and our greatest triumphs. Mostly, I want to build connection and create community at a time when we need it the most. If you live or work in Silver Spring or Takoma Park and are interested in having your life documented at this time—or know someone who has a unique experience and is willing to share—please contact me. To all those who have made this project possible, including Source of the Spring, I thank you for your time and generosity. To the neighbors who will respond in the future, I look forward to getting to know you. And to everyone reading—stay healthy and safe. We will make it through.

Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: Voices from Silver Spring—Christy Batta