I first viewed this extraordinary photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken by an old friend of mine about a week ago on Facebook. Here in New York we are cloistered in our sad and stricken little bubble. Since we can’t leave, I was having a hard time imagining what the rest of the country was going through. This picture answered that question. Thank you, Karyn, for opening my eyes.
For me, a well-known dinosaur when it comes to adopting new technologies, the rush to connect was nearly euphoric. I found myself Face-timing and Zooming with family and friends I had not spoken to in ages. There was almost a hysteria to it, as if we all wanted to shriek at the world and unburden ourselves of this unholy curse. The martinis flowed as we stumbled over one another’s lines.
But in short order, the novelty began to wear off and a dull-edged sadness crept in. The Zoom cocktail hours became staticky, the hilarity more forced. Instagram – the one connector that I unabashedly adore – seemed to reflect the digital mood more accurately. I stand in thrall of a group of women pilots in Europe – they post extraordinary feeds that capture an unparalleled vibrancy and zest for life , when not performing their exacting duties at 35,000 feet. They are nearly all grounded now. This photo was taken by First Officer Marieke, a pilot whom I most certainly will never meet, but long to see her beautiful shots from the cockpit again soon.
As the dull roar of the new normal settles in, giddy pundits predict that we will embrace this force-fed electronic handshake long after the dust settles. I’m not so sure about that. A friend who works in wildlife conservation and pursues her second passion as a photographer captured this image at a New York grocery store. The shelves were empty and the subjects were breaking all the rules. Their purloined joy was evident. I could not avert my eyes.
We walk the city streets now, heads turned when we encounter another person, executing a choreographed pas de deux as we duck to the other side. Human contact is what led us to this dark place, but I remain hopeful it is also where it will end. The day those bells toll, I’ll drop my phone on the table by the bottle of Purell and run from my tenement door, ready to finally embrace in the world’s biggest collective hug.
Pilot Marieke is a Boeing 737 First Officer based in Europe and can be followed on her Instagram. Angela Ambrosini is Director of Digital Marketing at Panthera and her photography can be followed on Instagram and her personal website. Author Ken Carlton posts on his American journey @mrswagnerspies.