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BEARING WITNESS

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

March 26, 2020


I came up with the idea of this chronicle because I know how details get lost.


Whenever we live through something intense — whether a breakup, the first night of summer camp as a child, or a major world event — we always think we’ll remember it afterward. But we don’t.


We sometimes forget meaningful things because they’re so meaningful that they overwhelm us. Graduations, funerals, the birth of children, winning awards — you think you’ll never forget, and instead, sometimes you barely remember.

When you take the time to record it in some way, aren’t you usually surprised when you come across it later on? Because in the rush of emotion, or the demands of the occasion, we do lose the details. We all do.



That may be why I felt the impulse to become a chronicler in this era. Yes, I’m a writer, and yes, I earned my living as a journalist for many years. But I’ve almost never written about my own experience. Many people, even non-writers, itch to create a memoir at some point, but I have never felt that itch, personally. I’ve lived through some very intense times, and have always been content to let others set them down for posterity.


Because this is just getting underway, it’s too soon to sum anything up. I hope readers will forgive the bumps in the road — errors I can’t yet see, comments I have no idea will prove to be insensitive later on, faulty predictions, etc. Like all of us, I can only write from my own experience. Sometimes I’ve looked back on a perspective I’ve held with agonized amazement. I hope tat doesn’t happen here, but it could.


I hope others are writing about this time, too. No one person can capture what the era of coronavirus (for lack of a better term) is like. Many whose lives are more interesting or glamorous may have fascinating tales to tell. Whereas I expect mine may be very common and ordinary. And if so, that’s kind of the point.


I want to lay down a truthful and accurate account about the daily life of a regular person in this not-at-all-ordinary time. That’s it. This website isn’t meant to be an historical record, especially since there’s a huge amount of excellent journalism being produced right now. Anyone in the future who wants to know exactly what happened on what day can easily find out. In fact, there’s so much in information available right now, in every possible format, that it almost makes my head spin (and maybe yours, too).


My intention is just to describe my own experience, because I think that will have value at some point — just as Depression-era diaries or WWII love letters have value to some readers. I know my account will be somewhat political, because we’re living in an intensely political age. Our country is engaged in an epic power struggle, one that could result in a civil war, secession, or both, according to some. Personally I think it’s already a civil war of sorts. But that was true long before corona came. I don’t know how it will turn out, but I suspect the challenges of this pandemic will alter our course.


I hope so. It feels like we’ve been heading somewhere pretty grim for a while.


My views are passionately held, like most people’s, but what I want most is for Americans to remember our connection to each other. I’d rather we found a way to rekindle a respectful national discourse than for “my side” to be proven right.


In the spring of 2020, too many of us are heartbroken, seething with rage, or completely tuned out because of the polarization in our country. A Presidential impeachment took place just a few months ago and an astonishing number of people didn’t want to know anything about it. Our level of animosity has made us dysfunctional as a system and despairing as a nation.


Maybe I’m crazy but I keep wondering whether something good might happen now. Don’t populations often draw together in times of crisis? If there’s an enemy at the door, might that make us remember we’re all in this together?


Or might it do the opposite? As raw as many of us feel, we might just explode now that our level of stress as a nation is shooting up.


I don’t know what will happen, obviously, but I’m going to write about it as it unfolds, as best I can. I hope it does someone some good — including me. At the very least, writing things down may be an interesting way to spend the long days at home.




Laura Federico

New Jersey

March 26, 2020



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