Like all of us, I’ve had my handful of experiences in life where I’ve felt a little bit turned upside down. When I first moved away from home and went off to a new city to go to college, everything was uncertain and weirdly colored and strange. Many years later when I moved to the city where I currently live, it was an excitement and an adventure, but finding myself navigating my way around a new place and waking up in a new home took some adjustment, as it does. My husband and I traveled to Europe some years ago, and while it was one of the best few weeks of my life thus far, being in countries where I didn’t speak the language and couldn’t easily communicate was also an unsettling experience. And to be sure, when I became a mom for the first time (and the second time), everything flipped backwards and upside down and sideways and turned a thousand different shades of orange and blue and pink before I eventually settled into a new me.
I’m sure that many of you may have many similar experiences. New places, new homes, new people, new roles in life. What I’m not sure about at all is this moment that we all find ourselves living through together right now. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it turned the entire world and everyone in it upside down in an instant, shattering many illusions that we thought we knew to be true. At Halfway Down the Stairs, we chose Upside Down as our June 2020 theme many months ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t yet exist. At the time, we had no idea how pertinent, poignant, and unsettling the theme would be. As I sit here on a rainy afternoon writing this Editor’s Note, I find myself feeling that there are just so many things to say in light of this current tragedy but no good way to say them. All of our lives and our losses and our trials and our concerns are so vastly different. And yet, somewhere underneath, I feel like there’s maybe even more common ground than there has ever been before. Moving to a new city or becoming a new parent are feelings that many of us can relate to on some level, but the COVID-19 pandemic is an experience that each and every one of us are all dealing with right now, at this very moment, together.
It’s so easy to focus on the horror spilling out of the news sites and the TV and social media each day. It is easy to fall into despair. But I’d like to take a moment, instead, to think about what is good and what is pure. The countless heroes in all of the essential fields. The spirit of unity. The love and care and respect for family and friends and strangers alike. The sacrifices that are being made by so many people every single day. And not least of all, the beautiful art that is being created. Art soothes the soul – it is simply something that will always be true – and during this pandemic it has been flourishing. One of my favorite musical artists created a song about the pandemic that is one of the most beautiful songs that I’ve ever heard. I’ve watched countless musicians singing and performing from their homes. Comedians are making me laugh and making me cry. And here too at Halfway Down the Stairs, our lovely and talented writers are bringing you a reprieve from the world around you for just a little bit. We hope that our Upside Down issue brings you some tranquility during this trying time.
Carrie Bachler is a fiction editor at Halfway Down the Stairs.
© 2020, Carrie Bachler