Yes

In the grocery store checkout line — six feet at least apart from everyone — the man in front of me starts in on a rant about Boeing and the proposed bailout. I set down the gallon vinegar and my bag of purchases I’m sure our family utterly needs in a pandemic, like masa harina, and assure the stranger I’m with him.

In this utterly strange world — far apart but suddenly socially unleashed — I ask him question after question. A Vietnam Vet, he and his wife are sewing masks for medical workers. He raises a cardboard box of wire ties the grocery store donated to aid their efforts.

I don’t know if those masks will impede the virus or not. I’ll probably never see this stranger again, who lifted the box just before he left, while I cheered him on and thanked him.

Yes, it snowed nine inches in Vermont. Yes, we’re under a Stay Home order, the governor’s distinctively less-alarmist version of shelter-in-place with your arms over your head. Yes, the governor’s on the radio every day, assuring Vermonters we will endure. And, yes, this, too, will pass.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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