In what seems like years ago, last week, the National Endowment for the Arts spent the last of its budget on a nationwide project to document life before coronavirus, when Americans were confined to their homes and forgot everything that had come before. While most interviewees remembered precious little of their lives as far back as last week, historians were able to gather a handful of stories, painting a vague picture of what life was like before the country descended into a timeless, unmeasurable miasma roughly 7-8 days ago.
“I don’t remember much, to be honest. What I did for work, what I liked to eat, it’s all gone. All I have now are artifacts. Look at these things – the writing is faded, but you can just make out COOZIE FOR YOUR BOOZIE. Not sure what these were used for, but I’ve been using them as socks ever since I ran out of socks. They’re surprisingly plush.”
“I’m pretty sure I loved my kids. I must have, because there are so many photos of them everywhere. Now they’re covered in pasta sauce and we’ve forgotten their names (I’m fairly certain one of them goes by ‘Taylor’ but couldn’t hazard a guess as to which). After school closed, the drudgery of entertaining them non-stop for several days in a row just broke us down. Now we mostly put them in the bathtub and let them figure it out. The smaller one seems to somehow have mastered basic plumbing in there, which does give me hope for the future.”
“When the orders came to shelter in place, me and my roomies were not prepared. The only bulk food supply we had was Cool Ranch Doritos, so we’ve pretty much lived off those for as far back as I can remember. We even planted a few in the backyard, so I think with the spring harvest we’ll pull through. Did everyone else abandon clothes, or was that just us?”
“The story passed down through generations is that I was studying Communications. Who can say if it’s true? The generation passing the story down is my parents, reminding me they still have to pay my student loans, but is money even real anymore? I still have all the books, but then literacy faded so quickly over the weekend, or at least mine did.”
“Well, as soon as the boys moved home, it was clear we had too many adult males in the house and we’d have to divide up the territory. It was a pretty brutal battle, I lost a part of my arm, but we sorted it out. Paulie Jr. has the upstairs, Lenny’s over the garage, and I’ve got the basement den. The kitchen’s neutral territory where we trade resources we can’t find in our own territories. Lenny’s our only reliable supply of batteries and that guy drives a hard bargain. He’s surrounded his territory with a whole bunch of mouse skulls on pikes, which is amazing because I didn’t even know we had a mouse problem. The kitchen is also where we call a nightly truce for dinner because Cheryl’s the only one who remembers how to work the stove.”
“I’m 103 years old; I lived through the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. I remember everything and let me tell you, there ain’t shit worth retelling. Now get off my porch, I’ve got polka class on the Zoom!”