ConnectCommentary: Of ridiculously long hashtags, serendipity, and silver linings in the COVID cloud
Yes that is a ridiculously long hashtag, but, there it is.
So this column is kind of a vocabulary lesson. Or perhaps it's more like Sesame Street - today is brought to you by the word "Serendipity."
And as with any good definition, I will now define serendipity without using the word serendipity:
Three months ago, I started Connect: Stephens County, returning to journalism in this community where i found a home as a journalist a dozen years ago. I quickly created a few Goggle Alerts, just to stay on top of things... for Toccoa, for UGA, for Georgia, for Currahee, etc etc... and of course, one for Stephens County.
Almost immediately, I had to start weeding Alerts from The Duncan Banner out of my basket of notifications each day, because, ya see, the small town of Duncan, population 23,431, is in Stephens County, Oklahoma.
As the weeks passed, I'd notice, here and there, Duncan Banner headlines that would make me chuckle, because they were so very familiar...Their wrestlers did well at state finals, their county and city leadership slogged though the same meetings, it seemed, as ours did, fielding the same zoning requests, road complaints and budget preparations. More and more, I started to look forward to seeing what was going on in this little town that I've never been in (I Know! gasp! yes, there are towns this gypsy hasn't been in!)
This past four weeks, as our Stephens County has watched a harmless looking little round virus with almost pretty little spikes begin to change the world as we know it, that Stephens County 1,034 miles away became, in some strange way, very real and very important to me.
When the county had their first positive result on March 25, just two days after our first case, I muttered "damn" under my breath (I'd been hoping COVID would skip right over them like some errant tornado). I got to know, in these past weeks, Tamara Gregor, I learned her writing style and I felt a reporter's fellowship with her as she described the wounds this disease left on her town. I laughed at Andy Morphew's date with Destiny (an adorable boxer/mastiff) and had a "wish I'd though of that" moment over their Take Out Tuesday column. And when they reached 5 cases yesterday, mere hours before we did, i felt it like a kick in the gut.
And as this country falls into lockdown mode, as people - voluntarily or under order - seek shelter, and stay-at-home, and as our world becomes smaller, it hit me that it has also become larger.
The anxiety we feel here, is the same anxiety they feel in Stephens County, Oklahoma.
The way the community bands together here, is the same way the community in Tacoma, Washington, supports one another.
The doubts and suspicious we face here raise the same questions that residents in Stephens County, Texas, are asking.
The fearful anger and the heartbroken sorrow felt here are the same emotions riding roughshod through Toccoa, Missouri.
And, HOPE holds sway here, the same way it does in Marin, Idaho, Martin Haiti, and Martone, Italy.
So, yes, ridiculous hashtag or not, #weareallneckdeepinthischitandfightingourwayupsteamtogether