Guest post by Jonna Huseman

What is your profession/involvement in the community?
I’m a digital designer for the Washington Post and a photographer. I’m a native of Silver Spring—I was born in Holy Cross hospital just down the street!

How has your life changed since the community has been impacted by Coronavirus?
It’s definitely gotten a lot quieter, especially in terms of interactions with people. It’s giving me a moment of pause. I’ve had more time to think and make decisions, and be in my own head. There’s definitely less distractions. Anxiety is high, though. You watch the news, and it’s definitely not great. Sometimes you have to tune things out. I try to be aware of when I’ve had enough news for the day. It’s good to know where that limit is and when to tune it out.

Are you working more or less?
My workload is generally the same now as it was before—how I work is probably the biggest difference. The accessibility of work is just so instant now. I’m even more reachable and flexible with my time now because of being remote. Like, I answer emails right away. The separation between work life and home life is blurrier and boundaries are less set.

What are you most afraid of?
I think I’m most afraid of my family getting sick, or knowing a family member is sick and not being able to do anything about it. I don’t worry for myself so much, but I do worry for other members of my family. For example, my sister is in New York City and has two young kids. I’m scared for them. I’m scared of my parents catching it, even though they are taking proper precautions to protect themselves from it.

What are you most hopeful for?
I’m hopeful that this whole pandemic will wake people up and help us see what is actually important in life. There was a lot of noise before this whole pandemic. Now, I think the speed at which people live life has really slowed down. I think people are more thoughtful and caring and kind. In some ways this has brought us together as a community—there’s something we can all relate to. You don’t take things as for granted anymore.

What has been the most challenging part of this experience for you?
I think the most challenging thing has been being committed to the routine that I’ve created for myself. I try to keep a strict schedule for the day. I try to work out or do some kind of physical activity. Then I work at my desk and try to take breaks. But at the same time, I’m juggling all of that with home stuff, like cooking, cleaning, making sure I have supplies, things like that.

Is there anything—even a tiny thing—you enjoy or like about sheltering in place?
I’ve gotten back into drawing. I’ve really enjoyed the practice and spending hours just being lost in my art. They’re not masterpieces, but it still feels good to get back into sketching and experimenting. I try to keep work and personal art separate, and I see my personal art as an incentive to get me through the day. It’s kind of like a reward after doing work or chores. Just creating and being creative is nice, and having the time to think creatively feels good. That’s how I’ve been spending a lot of extra time.

What do you think society as a whole will learn from this experience?
I hope a lot, but at the same time, once this passes I think everyone will just ignore the fact that we just went through something traumatic. I hope we learn to be better people.

How are you coping with stress/taking care of yourself?
I still go to my therapy appointments—it’s just virtual now. Exercising, or trying to exercise, and getting out once in a while has been good. I feel so much better after a jog or a run. And a Xanax or two doesn’t hurt. I live in a high-rise building and I think we’re lucky that we get to have a beautiful view.

My family has established a Saturday virtual meeting. We all catch up that way. That’s been nice and has helped us all cope and check in with one another. I don’t even think we were that communicative before the pandemic. Everyone is home now, and we all have time now to jump on the call and just say “hey.” Sometimes the video call lasts a couple of hours. It’s good to see my cousin’s kids and my sister’s kids, and just talk with people on a regular basis who I would normally see a few times a year.

When future generations ask, what will you tell them about this time in your life?
We got through it. We survived the pandemic. That, in and of itself, seems like an accomplishment.

What would you like your friends and neighbors in Silver Spring/Montgomery County to know?
I’ve always been appreciative of grocery workers, but during a pandemic they have become like saviors. They show up to their jobs every day and because of that we’re still able to eat. I have so much more appreciation for what they do, and what other frontline workers do. That includes the cleaning staff in our building. I’m so glad we have staff here at our front desk. When I go downstairs to check mail or something, I always make sure to say hi from a distance. They’re people too, and they’re putting themselves at risk just by coming here every day. But they do it with a smile on their face. They’re like extended family.

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.

Mike Diegel