In the Fog

There was a Soviet animation called “Hedgehog in the Fog, opens a new window” I saw when I was a kid. I hated it. The colors were dull, the plot made no sense, there was not much going on. The other day I realized that the cartoon closely reflects how I feel these days. The story is pretty straightforward: Hedgehog is on his way to visit his friend, Bear Cub, when he comes across a lowland covered in fog. There is a horse grazing in it. And that is when Hedgehog starts wondering if the horse is going to be safe: the fog is so thick, what if the horse drowns? So he steps into the unknown - and loses his way. The fog is suddenly not as quiet as it seemed. Trying to find his way out, the hedgehog falls into a river. He accepts his fate and lets the flow carry him. He suddenly feels something touch his back: a mysterious Someone takes Hedgehog back to the shore. He is now back in the woods and there is no fog around anymore. He can hear Bear Cub calling his name. Hedgehog is late, and his friend seems unhappy at first, only to later admit that he was getting worried. The two friends sit by the fire drinking tea. Bear Cub talks about how glad he is to have Hedgehog as his friend; Hedgehog is looking at the stars thinking about the horse.

When I signed up to write a couple of blog posts for the library website more than six months ago, the world was a different place. My mind was bursting with ideas – to a point where I had too many, and it became an obstacle.

I thought of writing an article on becoming a better version of myself through reading books on self-help and productivity. I checked out many, and even finished several. However, my reading has not progressed much since the library closed. I am still on page 31 of Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956”. Classic Russian literature mostly seemed like torture when I was fifteen. It is still not a light book to read, but I do not dislike it anymore. I have not made it far enough in the “Rhett and Link's Book of Mythicality” to know what their signature dance moves are. March felt like the longest and the shortest month at the same time. April and May were a blur; it was just like walking through a fog where you cannot tell things apart and the borders between things do not exist anymore. I spent quite a few evenings binge-watching “Supernatural”. I find it entertaining. To me, that is a kind of show that does not require much involvement from you. There are no complicated story lines to follow and you do not have to remember a bunch of names (I am not very good at it). Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” was a delight. I am doing my best to slow down and let the remaining few chapters of volume one last me a bit longer. There are so many wonderful things about that comic book. The stories, the art, the fonts, all blending together to take you on a trip to another universe.

I cannot say my daily life has changed too much since the quarantine started. I go running at least once a week. I love snuggling with my cats. Both my husband and I go to work. There are small things that have joined our daily routine, like washing face masks every evening or making sure our hands are clean before we hug each other when one of us comes back home. At a certain point I reached some sort of acceptance - just like the hedgehog letting the river take him down the stream. There are so many things I cannot change, there is no meaning to fight them. I am lucky to have a job. I avoid getting too anxious thinking about my family living on the other side of the Earth. I know there are people I can talk to - despite the fact that not all of the library services are available at the moment, the peer support specialists, opens a new window are there for you if you are feeling down. I take a lot of photos and try to write down small things that make me happy. Small things matter, after all. Tried a new recipe on April 5. The sky looked majestic on May 4. Spotted my first firefly on May 16. Summer is just around the corner. I hope that in a year or in two, these photos and notes will remind me that despite almost everyone wearing masks and avoiding each other, despite the whole world being lost, and terrified, there still was hope and bright moments, a lot of them. And there will be a day when we will be able to come together again.

-Zarina Alfers is a Materials Handling Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.