Such a simple action. An everyday action... but not this time. This time seemed in some way to carry a heavy significance. As I slowly turned the key to lock the door of the Moxie that day, my chest tightened and I was overtaken by a flood of emotions. I walked to my car and got in but couldn't muster the energy to drive home.
For weeks the word Corona had been just that... a word. A word that mattered in a global sense but not a word that carried much weight in our day-to-day American lives. So we did what most people did... continued on as if the situation wasn't going to impact our country. If the topic ever arose, we would just say something akin to "bless their hearts" and jump to another topic. We watched as other countries scrambled to cope with the virus's impact as we ate our breakfast and headed off to work. It was surreal to watch entire populations stay home or wearing masks. The idea of such an outbreak here was absolutely unimaginable... especially not in the deep South.
But then the unimaginable happened.
The Coronavirus hit the coast of the US and was rapidly making its way across the states. At first, the outbreaks seemed to only hit the major population hubs but then it started to infect smaller and less populated areas as well; shutting down the economy as it went. We knew very little of the virus's characteristics but what was known is that it could be transmitted very quickly and easily... especially in confined areas with close contact. Not patient enough to wait for the researchers, people began to fabricate solutions to a problem they didn't even fully comprehend. Every media outlet was buzzing with constant updates and suddenly everyone on social media became virologists or conspiracy theorists. There was much confusion and so much fear. The work of sorting the facts from the fictions became an impossibility. People split into diametrically opposed thought camps: the "shut it down"ers and the "freedom fighters". The topic became a rights issue, was politicized and everything intensified.
So here we were, in the midst of what was becoming a pandemic, questioning our business' next move. We had decided that if a case was confirmed in Etowah county, that would be our signal to stop. That day came but once we were faced with the actuality of closing... it still wasn't easy. We knew that closing down could be seen by some as giving up "freedom" and we were somewhat worried about how clients were going to take the news. We also knew it was the right thing to do. As we were filming a video announcing our closure, the Governor was also making her own announcement... by the end of the week, Alabamians were to stay at home except for essential workers. News of the Gov's decision left me feeling relieved and validated but at the same time still unsure of everything. I had watched other salon owners across the country and the world handle closures and noted how emotional many of them were over their businesses closing. Even with that being said, I honestly didn’t realize it would be as emotional as it was. It seemed unreal, like some type of Looking Glass world. You spend countless hours attempting to create a safe warm and welcoming environment for your guests only to realize that the very nature of that safe haven could endanger them. That evening as I turned off the lights and flipped the sign to closed, the salon seemed like a sad shadow of a place that was usually so full of life. The building was so empty and so so dark.
Nothing in this place has the nature of permanence. Its all shifting all the time. We trick ourselves into believing that we can put faith in these temporal things. The only certainty is change. Our only choice is how we handle those changes and whether or not we allow ourselves to be malleable enough to adapt. That night forever changed the shape of something inside me.
It was going to be a long couple weeks...