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The Balcony People

Emerging from my cold dingy room I put on a floral mask made by a local designer. I hadn’t worn it in about 2 months. I stepped out into the fall sun and found myself accosted by the stares of people from their porches and balconies.

They looked at me as if I were stepping on broken glass with no shoes on.

It was just on my little street, once I got to the more bustling public areas, I found myself stunned by the lack of change. People weren’t even wearing masks most of the time or had them hanging at their wrists. Stores had people in them, line ups even.

People were standing so close together.

I walked back to my street and met the cautious stare of a man smoking on the pathway to his apartment. He was wearing brown slippers and ripped up sweatpants, I figured he wasn’t going anywhere. I ducked back into the crowd and tried to return a large empty bottle of beer.

It was a small outing, but it created a wonderfully strange story.

I find myself writing about my walks every time I go out now. As a writer, this is a gold mine for inspiration, and at first, that's how I saw it all. As the pandemic evolved and the second wave hit, I took stock of the situation, I found a lot had changed.

People were tired and I was tired. I sat in my room and stared out the window wondering how we were all going to survive this, not just physically but mentally. I saw the barrage of ads about taking care of your mental health and I thought about my own mentality during this time.

I looked back at my writing and wondered how many people were cataloguing their experiences. I saw the memes about what we’d tell our kids about this pandemic, I saw how people felt powerless in the face of all this change and unreality.

Even I was having problems, the person who likes to imagine what if rain fell from our ceilings. I couldn’t fathom what was happening until I put it into writing. Nothing imaginary just what was happening in my small bedroom. Then things changed for me, a character was born.

A character that was me. As silly as it sounds the world began to look less bleak when things became a story. A malleable thing that I had the power to change. Small change, but change, nonetheless. I stood for something and felt powerful for the first time since the pandemic had begun, as if I had gone from a passive observer to an active participant.

When they talk about things opening back up, I view it less that life will go back to normal. I feel like after being cooped for so long and being scared for so long the world is gonna come back and be utterly fearless in the face of change.

I can’t wait to see that happen.

By Swan Yue


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