Sunday, April 19, 2020

“Until it Hits Someone You Know”

Last summer, Urban Sketchers Seattle met in the Leschi neighborhood where I grew up. Although the Leschi Market storefront is not usually the type of building that would attract my attention, I sketched it purely out of nostalgia. Only a half-mile or so from my childhood home, it was the store where my mom sometimes shopped for groceries (she didn’t drive, so she walked there when she needed a few things). On summer days, my sister and I would stop there after hanging out in Leschi Park, then eat popsicles on the walk home. It was that kind of neighborhood market. It still is.

One of the owners of Leschi Market has died of COVID-19. I didn’t know Steve Shulman, but his family has owned the store since the ‘40s. According to The Seattle Times article, he had been working at the store since he was a teenager, which means he was probably there on some of the many days that my family shopped there. Maybe he sold me a popsicle.

In Danny Westneat’s column the week prior, he quotes the store’s co-owner saying, “People are having a hard time believing that this virus is actually happening,’” and then observes, “Maybe you don’t really believe it until it hits someone you know.”

When you watch the staggering statistics of deaths and infections pile up in news stories or scroll by on Facebook, it feels like any other disaster, war, bombing, what have you. If you know just one of those people or have any kind of personal connection with one, it suddenly becomes real.

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