A week ago, COVID-19 exploded from a murky question mark to a solid sledgehammer that whacked the economy. Cities ordered many businesses to shut down or restricted their services, and people became jobless overnight. Most everyone faces an uncertain future.
We take comfort in hearing how others are coping. We are all entwined emotionally in this pandemic even as we try to distance ourselves physically. I messaged a cross-section of people to ask two questions: 1. How prepared are you financially and spiritually to handle this coronavirus shutdown? And 2. any general thoughts you would like to share? Also, I asked them to send a photo of their quarantine space.
Mary Perez said she is “hunkered down at home” while her restaurant is in flux. After years of doing business near Sylvania Avenue on the East Side, she relocated Enchiladas Ole to bigger and better digs near TCU and reopened earlier this year.
At the time, she was riding a high after her cafe’s queso was named among the nation’s best in a
USA Today poll. Now, business has cratered, and Perez is “reading, writing, and working on house projects” and “praying for God’s direction on when to reopen the restaurant. Team members will start to feel the financial strain in about a week.”
“I am good with God,” she said. “No fear of living or dying.”
Fort Worth folk singer-songwriter Summer Emerson said, financially, she is “not prepared at all!”
Spiritually, though, she is doing better.
“I was made to stay in bed,” she said. “I’ve got that part covered!”
She wants everyone to “continue to be safe and very
cautious going forward for the sake of family and friends. Keep pushing through. This will be over soon enough!”
Don Young owns and operates a stained-glass window business with his wife, Debora Young, and both are environmental activists.
Staying alone for long periods isn’t unusual for the Youngs since they are “self-proclaimed introverts” and work from home anyway.
The stained-glass business is unpredictable, and the couple is used to preparing for downturns.
“We don’t have a big fat bank account, but we have enough most of the time,” Young said. “Social Security has been a lifesaver when business is slow.”
As for spirituality, “nothing has changed because of the coronavirus,” he said. “Our beliefs in ourselves, each other, and a higher power are steadfast, aside from occasional doubts.”
The couple finds solace in walking the 200-plus acres at Tandy Hills Natural Area, a prairie park just east of Downtown and across the street from the Young residence. They tend to their backyard garden and enjoy the comforts of their small but cozy home.
“We have grown more wary and careful about trips to the store,” he said. “Overall, we think it’s not a bad thing to now be more aware of our surroundings and habits that can be taken for granted. Mindfulness has been one of our mantras for years and is getting a good workout.”
Bonnie Mays lives with her husband, Jeff Mays, and their son in Burleson. She is a communications director at a medium-sized church that has gone to online services only during the pandemic.
Her husband is a manager at a flooring and appliance store.
“We have a bit of savings, and we have money coming in, thankfully, from both of our jobs, but we still worry a little about the economy and future,” she said. “Since I have autoimmune [disorder], and my son has a lung abnormality as well as pretty serious asthma, we are concerned by the amount of people who are not taking it very seriously. A lot of our neighborhood has offered help in buying groceries or picking up things that we may need, and that has really given me a good sense of people taking care of others in our community.”
Locals know Tony Green as the “Mayor of Magnolia,” a cultural influencer, and host of the popular video series Hello, I’m Tony Green, and a cocktail slinger at a bar.
“Financially, being in the service industry, I can say with full confidence that I’m certainly unprepared,” he said. “I also have the confidence that I live in one of the most supportive communities in Fort Worth — Fairmount.”
He is focusing on staying emotionally grounded during the stressful times.
“I got depressed when it rained for a week last year, “ he said. “This time, I’m making the best of this by getting every creative I have currently working on the show and more to get together and reformat a hopefully bi-weekly quarantined edition of Hello, I’m Tony Green. We will stream to YouTube and Facebook, spreading the happiness and hopefully raising a few tips for our small team and giving a platform to the places that can help during this time. Stay tuned.
“Can’t wait until we can do a song again together less than six feet away from each other,” he said, referring to a regular music/talk show I host, Toast & Jam. He was my guest back in January, 2019.
Melissa Rodriguez Lawler is an office manager in Tomball who feels lucky to have maintained some financial security since she and her husband, Jace Lawler, are able to work from home.
“But our hearts are heavy for our friends and family members who can not,” she said.
Quarantining for long periods day and night with her husband and son has been mostly “nice” but with the occasional “tense” moments.
Rodriguez has gained a new appreciation of public educators since she and her husband have been home-schooling their child.
“We are not trained educators,” she said. “We have to create schedules that include school time, some kind of socializing, and even recently a daily workout schedule since his swim has been shut down. You come to realize how much the school does for them. Their mind, health, and social skills are all things that are provided by the schools.”
Independent artist and art teacher Trista Morris feels “fairly prepared” spiritually for whatever post-pandemic reality lies ahead.
“What can you do in the wake of something that is bigger than you?” she said. “You have to ride the wave of what is hitting you, or you will drown in it.”
Financially, she is “not okay.”
“I am a full-time artist and entertainer, so my options for making a living were essentially flushed down the toilet when everything began shutting down,” she said. “Not only that, but this concept might be quite permanent. Many of the bars and venues I teach classes at are local and small and may not survive the wreck that we are witnessing.
“Many people are now out of work, and all around times are going to be difficult for a while,” she continued. “I know a lot of musicians and artists who are in the same boat as me, and the boat feels like it’s going to start sinking slowly unless our government steps up to the plate to help its citizens who drive the current economy and pull the weight off of us. My creative friends are drowning right now.”
She has been using her skills to help musicians and artists live stream performances from home, and she has been teaching stressed-out people basic drawing techniques to help them find relief from their anxiety.
“I believe that love is how we will survive this mess,” she said. “Love and understanding that things are going to be very bad, and we are just now seeing the crest of the wave as it looms over us. Times are about to get much, much worse. I feel also that it is a creative’s duty to document what is happening in the environment around us. Take pictures, paint the empty streets, and write songs and poetry about the things that are terrorizing us. Make history as it is unfolding so that maybe we don’t have to face another pandemic in our lives, so that maybe our future can be brighter once this wave passes.”