Stories from Seattle: How to Stay Put

Seattle photographer Ted Zee documents the way we are coping during the pandemic
| Updated: April 29, 2020
  • Scarlet Gonzalez, in Ballard. As a family therapist who has had to transition to telehealth sessions, Scarlet notes the struggle for colleagues and patients to adjust to therapy during a crisis. “There’s no handbook, no guidelines for ‘best practices during a pandemic...We’re all doing the best we can; that’s all we need to ask for.” She copes with her own exhaustion and misses familiar routines, but still sees silver linings: “Today, on my walk, I was met with more waves, smiles, and hellos than I ever have in the seven plus years I’ve lived in Seattle.”
  • Dewa Dorje and her children Bodhi and Ananda, in Seward Park. Dewa is a Tibetan American stand-up comedian. “Stand up is so important to me and I wish I could be on stage right now talking about my views on Covid,” Dewa said. At home, she’s stretched thin with childcare, homeschooling, and finances as a divorced mother. “What the fuck is $1,200 going to do? We need a real plan...We may lose everything—but I am working hard on not focusing on worries. I will prepare for what I can anticipate, plan for possible alternatives, pray and then let it go.“
  • Kemi Adeyemi and her father Dolly, in Everett. The two have been living together for the past two years. Dolly recently retired after forty years at the Department of Social and Health Services and now misses being an essential worker, and the opportunity to assist others in the fallout from Covid-19. He’s considering new roles he can take on to help at this stage of his life. Kemi shares, “My dad says it's helped everyone slow down and smell the roses,” while “I am hopeful this situation is creating an empathy we have not seen before. Perhaps a deeper feeling of connection instead of an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.”
  • David Cravens-O’Farrell, in Maple Leaf. A building trades journeyman plumber, David was furloughed, and is waiting to be reinstated into a less risky work environment, as he has lupus. When he’s not teaching himself to play the guitar or online gaming, he indulges his “morbid fascination” with coronavirus news. He tracks the infection and death rates, and feels vindicated over his initial fears about the spread of the virus. He recalls his discussions on construction sites with coworkers who were skeptical or dismissive of the early stages of the pandemic, and teased him over his concerns. “Well, nobody’s laughing now.”
  • Paul Maier and Isaac Rivers, in Capitol Hill. Recently engaged, the two work for the same company, and are adjusting to working from home. There are health care uncertainties and worries about struggling loved ones, but they find some solace and normalcy in their “commuting” routines— meticulously setting up and hiding work stations at the start and end of each work day—and through frequent Zoom calls. “Even though we are more isolated from others than ever before, we are more connected to our family and friends than we have been in years. We have started several weekly hangout sessions, which we plan to continue after the quarantine is lifted.”
  • Miriam and Sven Larson, children Griffin and Isabeau, and Ruthie the dog, in Kirkland. The Larson family lives less than a mile from the nursing home that emerged as the focal point of the virus’ outbreak, and enacted a family stay-at-home policy well in advance of state mandates. “We have been lucky,” Miriam said, “My husband still has his job. My architecture work has slowed to a trickle, which is terrifying. We need my income also. But our children are safe and healthy, and we are safe and healthy, so we are taking it one day at a time.”
  • Greg and Rachel Nyssen and their son Francis, in Maple Leaf. Greg estimates that under the current conditions, the parents get more face-to-face time with their son (who is immunocompromised) and connect with extended family and friends more often due to the spike in video chat adoption. He also enjoys more time to indulge in movies, music, and home happy hours. “At home cocktails have skyrocketed,” still he says, “This all sounds like life is better, but not seeing friends and going out has led to some interesting sanity checks.”
  • Lauri Miller, in Ballard. Lauri is retired, and manages a neighborhood Facebook group with eleven thousand members. Interspersed with posts on neighborhood events, announcements, and memes, members give updates about how they are coping. She moderates discussions and roots our misinformation about Covid-19, which helps with her own anxieties, while locals comment on what people are baking while stuck at home, what restaurants are open for take out, and parking and liquor regulations that are being relaxed during the epidemic. “We are mostly past the 'Store X is out of hand sanitizer!' posts, but toilet paper shipments are still greeted with excitement.”
  • Lisa Sotelo, in Wallingford. Travel restrictions for the U.S. were announced just three days into her trip to Europe in early March, followed by news that she was being furloughed, along with the staff of the museum catering team that she managed. After a beleaguered return trip to Seattle, she stays busy by checking in on unemployed friends, and making meals for them, but admits, “I will eventually go stir crazy...I’ve joined Marco Polo and have a few chat feeds going with friends. I’ve had a couple of Skype dates. So far, I’m not feeling too lonely. I have an online session with my therapist next week.”
  • Amirra And, in Capitol Hill. Amirra stays connected to her barre workout community and other friends through irreverent “QuaranTina” workout videos and themed photo challenges for her social media followers. “We've all got a role to play right now...I am crystal clear that my role during this crisis is to encourage and create opportunities for people to giggle, and feel like they are a part of something. It doesn't mean I don't get frustrated and sad, and sometimes [I don’t] want to get out of bed. It means I know my strengths. And that's what's going to get us through this. Each of us, operating in our strengths.”
Ted Zee chronicles how people are coping with the coronavirus outbreak

This is part of a series of personal essays we're calling Stories from Seattle, contributed by our community and designed to show how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the lives of Seattleites. Want to share your story, coping mechanisms, wildest ideas? We’d love to hear. Please email: 

"Living in an early epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Seattle residents have been under statewide stay-at-home orders since March 23. What started as a two-week order was extended another month, and like in other regions—there’s no certainty over when or how restrictions will be lifted. I collected stories from area residents about how they are living, working, and keeping their families safe within their four walls. What they are doing to manage their anxieties over health, employment, and home-schooling challenges while in isolation, and the ways they stay connected to loved ones and their community. How they stay hopeful, and how they stay put."Ted Zee

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