Closed Kalamazoo: Week 2

Closed Kalamazoo Week 2: Looking at everything differently

Another week of Kalamazoo being closed. It doesn’t feel as strange as last week, but there are still daily moments that are dissettling.

Like today. I just came back from a walk downtown and it was eerie to see all the churches empty on a Sunday morning. It was very windy, closed signs were flapping on doors. It felt like a storm is coming. Coming home and briefly turning on the news, it appears one certainly is intensifying.

I’ve increased the number of walks I take to two or three a day, mostly in the same area downtown, trying to come to terms with everything that is happening. I’ve walked these streets daily for years, so the changes are stark. As the initial shock of everything being empty has become the new normal, I’m beginning to notice new things in the silence.

The world feels tangibly different in a lot of ways. The birds and other animals seem to roam more freely — maybe they always have, but it’s noticeable with less noise and people. I saw some friends on the Kalamazoo Mall and, as we talked across the street, our voices echoed.

Stores that were open just weeks ago are blending in with those that have been vacant previously. Walking past them, they are like distant landscapes that can only been seen but not interacted with.

Crosswalk signs are really just recommendations now. Social norms and small rules seem to have been put on hold. This week as I was walking around 5:30 p.m., a group was skateboarding on the steps of City Hall. On the Kalamazoo Mall, a woman was walking her dog off leash. A man riding his skateboard, on the sidewalk, whole being pulled by his dog. I don’t know if anyone would have said anything during normal circumstances, but no one is even thinking it now.

It is quite a strange, but freeing feeling to walk and not see anyone, especially at night — similar to walking in the woods. And when there are other people, I try to avoid them by crossing the street. It’s hard to maintain the six-foot distance when passing someone on the sidewalk. But more times than not, they will move over too.

The warm weather is making everything feel more open — the spaces felt larger and the emptiness felt deeper. But there’s also signs of good things to come — Oberon is released, flowers are starting to sprout, the sun is making an appearance. Illuminated windows are welcome signs as people are connecting digitally.

While’s so calm and quiet, seeing ambulances drive by and walking past Bronson are both reminders of why this all is happening. It’s impossible to imagine what is going on for those people and for the folks affected by the virus.

What’s going to come in the few weeks? More of the same, I assume. But how we react will change.

Here are some photos from the past week.


March 29, 2020