"My hometown feels different now, as I return from school during this unnatural time. I said quick goodbyes to my friends in Boston and have yet to greet my friends in Columbus, although I've been here a few weeks now. Playgrounds, salons, restaurants, and malls are closed, my mother won't hug me and my eyes are sore from Netflix, Zoom, and mindless internet wandering. My dog is officially tired of the walks I make him take but I am growing ever stir-crazy.
I'm usually excited to come home, but I find myself upset and lonely even while surrounded by my family. In an attempt to reminisce, I began taking photos of the places that reminded of me of my childhood and high school experience, and I felt like a stranger to them. We have now been "sheltering-in-place" for a month due to COVID-19, and I'm not sure how much longer I can take it. My experience is not unique, however, and I'm trying to stay calm and focused as we move and struggle through this pandemic together.
I am trying to hold onto the motivation to create art, and although these photos bring me grief, I am grateful for my camera as it allows me to escape, to become an outsider looking in rather than a mere subject of the changes around me. I hope that my photos will give me something to look back on once we are past this, as I hope that my own children will never have to read "Keep Out" on their playgrounds. Never again will I take for granted a visit with my grandparents, ungloved hands, or the simple luxury of standing less than six feet from my friends."
All photos by Lily Walsh