From the Editor: What Got Me Through the Pandemic

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
The downtown Columbus skyline

A year ago, my Columbus Monthly colleagues and I faced an unprecedented riddle: How do we make our annual Best of Columbus feature relevant during a time of tragedy, reflection and confession? Like so many others over the past year, we pivoted. We struck a different tone, one that acknowledged our profound health and racial challenges while still pointing out the people and things that make our city great.

Well, it’s Best of Columbus time again, and the riddle hasn’t gone away. Even though it’s unquestionably a brighter time for the city than it was a year ago, the virus hasn’t disappeared, nor has the systemic racism that inspired thousands to march through Downtown Columbus in the spring and summer of 2020. That means we’re still pivoting. Yes, our Best of Columbus feature includes playful stories about Zoom backgrounds, DIY butter cows, robot waiters and a nurturing manatee. But we also honored those standing up for racial justice, raising awareness of the overdose epidemic and helping us find comfort and community in new ways.

A recurring element in the feature is “What Got Me Through the Pandemic,” a series of interviews with prominent local citizens. Their pandemic lifelines ranged from golf to home-cooked meals to socially distanced road trips. But perhaps the most inspiring idea (at least to me) came from another story, the aforementioned Zoom backgrounds piece. Not to give too much away, but if I got to spend my days staring at a cool tiger tapestry like Columbus musician Angela Perley’s, my lockdown experience would have been 50 percent better.

I’m kidding (sort of). The truth is, the isolation of the pandemic wasn’t a major problem for me—and in many ways, I thrived in lockdown. I look back fondly on the long hours I spent on my front porch over the past year, either alone or with those who mattered most to me. What might prove a bigger challenge, however, is leaving the porch. And I have company. A recent American Psychological Association study showed that nearly half of adults surveyed feel uncomfortable going back to their pre-pandemic lives. One such person is freelance writer Joy Frank-Collins, who explores reentry anxiety in the reported essay "From Lockdown to Limbo."

Which brings me to another wonderful piece you can find in this issue: Hanif Abdurraqib’s ode to his favorite place to watch Scioto River sunsets. This spot near Miranova has given the acclaimed Columbus poet and essayist comfort and solace during the chaos of the past year, but as the world begins to reopen, he writes about “making a little room at the edge of the circle for anyone who might want to join me for an evening.”

It’s good advice. Indeed, it’s probably time for me to make more space for others on my front porch. Especially if they come bearing tiger tapestries.