In the midst of COVID-19, togetherness seems constant within households. Since March, my husband and I have spent all of our time together until he, a public school principal, went back to work two weeks ago. Togetherness for us has been the streaming of several detective shows, watching and drinking our way through the TCM wine club, walking and overwalking our Saint Bernard, and learning that we are not people who enjoy putting together puzzles.
If togetherness is not a constant, it’s a promise for the future. Familiar faces have dropped out of my life. I haven’t seen my book club since February. I have only seen my colleagues and relatives on a Zoom screen since late March. Other faces have become familiar over the last few months. The cashier that works every Sunday morning at the grocery store. The people who walk their dogs at the same time that we walk Columbo.
As my neighborhood is now my primary setting, my neighbors have become characters in my life story. I have become chatty with some neighbors. I have reacted to other neighbors, ordering Black Lives Matter lawn signs (plural) when Trump/Pence signs began popping up like weeds in my subdivision. I have learned that the neighborhood children have accurately nicknamed my dog “Cow-Doggy.”
Togetherness is comforting when it’s a choice. An evening spent snuggling with your significant other. Brunch with girlfriends. Togetherness can be trying when it’s not a choice. Sometimes, it’s the difficult coworker one cubicle over or the relative with too many opinions on your life choices.
This issue’s selections show the good and the bad of togetherness. In poetry, Lorraine Caputo writes of violence and community loss, as Leah Alsaker talks of family relationships in unusual times, and Joe Cottonwood recalls middle school crushes. In fiction, Peter Emmett Naughton addresses loss, while Kris Summerson explores the tension beneath family meals, and Shreyonti Chakraborty examines both emotional and physical distance in relationships. In nonfiction, Emily Jane Cayer remembers games of Scrabble with her feisty and competitive Grammy.
The editorial staff hopes you enjoy this new issue. Submissions are now open for our December issue, themed Inheritance.
Stacy Wennstrom is a nonfiction editor at Halfway Down the Stairs.
© 2020, Stacy Wennstrom