Dmitry. Polina Soyref, portrait photographer

Dmitry, engineer

interviewed on 9 May 2020

When they talk about a pandemic, a plot from a Hollywood movie arises in my head: that you will, relatively speaking, hunt zombies with a shotgun. Something drastically bad will happen, there will not be enough food to eat, tools to survive, and it seems to you that you are mentally ready for this. But it turns out that everything is not so. You were just told to sit at home—with all the possible entertainment you can imagine. It’s a strange feeling that you didn’t get what you expected.

There would be much less questions with zombies. You know what to do right away. And you can be a hero because you imagine yourself to be a hero. And the task of our generation is to stay at home and not go anywhere in order to save the world. And that thought is actually annoying, although it sounds somewhere from afar.

A lot of energy is spent on making decisions: where you can communicate, and where not, where to wear a mask, and where not to wear it. There is too much information, and at the same time, too little, you do not know what is reliable, constantly new data, and it seems that everything is vitally important. You need to constantly make decisions, decide, and discuss because I do not live alone. At the same time, you cannot do anything, that is, you can decide something for yourself, but you do not know whether it works or not. Even with masks: at first, I laughed at those who wear them, cause, of course, they don’t help. Then there was information that they still help. And I changed my mind. Etc.

Before, I met my friends, neighbors, we usually played board games with them, and now we were standing, talking, but I could not reach out and pat on the shoulder because now it is wrong. And we are, as it were, in the “in-between” zone. We seem to be talking, but this is some other interaction. Once I brought a beer to a friend, he opened the door for me, we talked at a distance, then I returned home, and we drank beer by zoom. It’s not bad, but very strange.

I have family in Moscow, and they got sick. First, a nephew, he is 14, he had a temperature for two days, and that’s it, but then everyone else. Mom is 71 years old, I am very worried about her, but everything seems to be fine now. I call them almost every day. I cried a couple of times after talking. It is very difficult to be in a state when you seem to be unable to do anything, but at the same time, you can try to do more, but it seems that it is not necessary. I have Russian citizenship, I will be allowed across the border, it’s clear it’s a one-way ticket, but it seems like maybe I could somehow help. Logically explained to myself that there is no point in going, but at the same time, I understand that if something happened, I would not be able to say “I did everything I could.”

My sister was able to be admitted to the hospital because she is a nurse. Her condition wasn’t enough for hospitalization at the time. It seemed that everything was not so scary. But already in the hospital, they injected her with something to thin the blood, I don’t really understand this, but there the indicators were almost twenty times higher. Now she has already been discharged. It was all a very stressful time.

Now there is no feeling of recharging when you go to work, when you communicate with other people. I live with my wife. I spend much more time with her now, but at the same time, I move away from her—and she moves away from me, and this feels natural for some reason. We see each other all the time, yes, of course, we ask how things are, but it is somehow blurred. It is interesting to relive these moments and go through them. Even in everyday life: we bought another table, made each his own workplace. It is interesting to find some solutions that work. It’s like you are in a swamp of information, and then you rely on solutions that work—they are like a reliable land in this swamp, islands, you can stand on them and move on.

The tough moment, which I haven’t fully thought through yet, is how time goes. It’s like I’m losing touch with it. There is no such thing anymore: you go to work, today I saw one thing, tomorrow—another, the weather changes, and it kind of separates the days. On weekends we tried to go somewhere to the forest where there are no people. People suddenly fell in love with parks, you come, and there are so many people there, they do not keep their distance—and, of course, they think the same about us. Therefore, we would drive further away at times. Nature gives a sense of safety and tranquility. Such tranquility, as if “everything has already happened, ” forest, trees, moss, all this does not give a damn if there are people, is there a coronavirus, this is calmness.

Quarantine is more in your head than in reality. People were left alone with themselves and with each other. I realized that it is important for me to be alone sometimes; this is the feeling that you saw an old friend and thought: “How great! Why don’t we communicate more often?” In ordinary life, you seem to lose yourself a little in the midst of everything that happens, but here you start to reflect more, to recognize yourself. This is a very short time, although it seems that the days are dragging on, but it might be nice to spend a few years with yourself.

Probably, later I will understand that this time has changed something, but now, without distance, it is difficult for me to judge this. Everything seems strange now, but I guess I’m interested in being in this weirdness.

“Tell me your story”