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Cherishing human connections in the time of coronavirus

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Love has countless guises. It can be as cocooned as a couple’s intimacy, something only for them. Or it can be as big as love for a city or countryside — the sounds, rhythms, smells and exquisite details, such as how the sunlight falls in late afternoon. In all its forms, though, love defines us. It shapes our desires, decisions and aspirations.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is a thief. Among the things it snatches away are the connections that feed passion, contentment, belonging and all the other variations of love. Families are separated. Cities and towns are silenced. Places of worship are locked. Hospital quarantine rules keep a patient, desperately sick with the virus, from holding the hands of family members in one last moment together.

A harsh irony is this: The stay-at-home orders and the six-foot social distancing we are told will help keep us safe also limit the human interactions that some medical researchers believe are essential to our physical and mental health.

Through the deeply personal work of nine photographers and artists, we look at the universality of the sense of loneliness we are all feeling right now, no matter where and how we live. These photographers — in France, Japan, Brazil and Illinois published in part one, Morocco, Russia, Britain, New York and Massachusetts here — show us the importance of love and human connections in this time of confinement.

This story is part two of a two-part series. See part one.

Elena Anosova — Moscow

Elena Anosova, 36, lives in Moscow with two roommates, Olesya and Anastasia. Since the middle of March, they have been self-isolating together with Elena’s life potentially at stake. “I have a heart condition,” said Elena, a photographer, artist and curator. “Everyone around me is being very careful to help me stay healthy during these days.”

The three women live in the city center, but they have seldom left the security of their three-bedroom apartment. All of them are working from home. Olesya, 39, misses going skiing or even biking. “My bike stands sadly in a corner,” she said. “But there’s still yoga practice, which is not too bad.” Anastasia, 36, a photo editor for an online magazine, has been secluded since March 17, away from her family and from her boyfriend, who, as a Belarusan, can’t reach Moscow under travel restrictions. “Embrace is crucial in situations like this; I want to hug my dearest and nearest.”

As for Elena, she misses nature most: the Siberian forests and the region around Lake Baikal. “But even trees in the park are [out of reach] — the park is closed. I want to touch spring at least in this concrete jungle.” Instead, she is documenting her life within the walls of her apartment. “This is a story about friendship, life and dreams,” she said, “about the miracle which is probably somewhere around the corner.”

Image: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 30:
Even having no Internet connection at all, we would still have our music, the rooms with the view and our hope. One for three of us - we don't even wish for more. 
(Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
LEDE
MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29:
It's a good chance to spend a lot of time on the balcony. The spring in Moscow is very cold, and it's better to use a blanket. Or several ones. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 26:
Our desire to buy everything for an unexpected and isolated future was very proactive. By the date when official restrictions began, half of our stocks were already expired. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29: It's a good chance to spend a lot of time on the balcony. The spring in Moscow is very cold, and it's better to use a blanket. Or several ones. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 26: Our desire to buy everything for an unexpected and isolated future was very proactive. By the date when official restrictions began, half of our stocks were already expired. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 28:
Living in the center of a big city is a pretty dirty way of life. Not this way, no. Just loud and dusty, with traffic is all around you. Well, staying home could be so good for keeping your room clean and your windows transparent to see the world as it is, finally.
(Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29:
We put off so many things for so long time. So we concentrate our attention on them now - there are no more excuses to delay! 
(Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 28: Living in the center of a big city is a pretty dirty way of life. Not this way, no. Just loud and dusty, with traffic is all around you. Well, staying home could be so good for keeping your room clean and your windows transparent to see the world as it is, finally. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29: We put off so many things for so long time. So we concentrate our attention on them now - there are no more excuses to delay! (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 28:
Bike, scooter, and skates are now cluttered by water bottles. Our kitchen is small, and there is no place to store the bottles we preserved. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 25:
We decided to eat properly since we are at home all the time. The result is - a box of apples bought at the eve of quarantine. We are on our way to the harmony of mind and body. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 28: Bike, scooter, and skates are now cluttered by water bottles. Our kitchen is small, and there is no place to store the bottles we preserved. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 25: We decided to eat properly since we are at home all the time. The result is - a box of apples bought at the eve of quarantine. We are on our way to the harmony of mind and body. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

Image: MOSOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 29:
We haven't had many dinners together- we were too busy all the time. We are doing it more now these days. It is so good to have each other right now, because it helps us to compensate for the loss of direct communication with our families, friends, and partners. (Photo by Elena Anosova/ For The Washington Post)
CLOSING SINGLE

Tori Ferenc — London

“It was supposed to be such a beautiful year,” said London-based photographer Tori Ferenc, who has been self-isolating with her husband for the past three weeks. “I have made so many plans for 2020 — a photographic project in Poland, printing my first book, visiting family for Easter, a festival in Amsterdam. And, of course, the trip my husband and I have been waiting for since the wedding last summer — our honeymoon in Iceland.”

With London on lockdown, “it seems like we are living in the alternate dimension,” she said. “Now, it feels like the only things we can plan are daily walks in the nearby park or rare visits to the supermarket. I am trying not to bring myself down too much, though, and to find some positive aspects of this new reality. I finally have time to focus on my hobbies, catch up on books and films, plant some herbs. But the best of all, I get to spend this time with my husband, Maciek. I would be much more anxious if it wasn’t for him.”

Over the past week, Tori, 30, has been photographing their daily lives at home. “I believe it’s important to document our life together in moments like this, no matter how mundane or insignificant they might seem,” she said. “Taking pictures in these strange times gives me hope for the future. If we can survive a pandemic, we can survive anything.”

Image: London, England - 27th March, 2020: Maciej is resting after lunch. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
LEDE
London, England - 22nd March, 2020: Waiting for the pregnancy test result in the bathroom. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
London, England - 25th March, 2020: Maciej day-dreaming in the office. Most days seem the same now. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: London, England - 22nd March, 2020: Waiting for the pregnancy test result in the bathroom. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: London, England - 25th March, 2020: Maciej day-dreaming in the office. Most days seem the same now. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

London, England -23rd March, 2020: Scissors and a comb on the window sill. I bought carnations in a local flower shop before the lockdown. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
London, England - 23rd March, 2020: Maciej in our living room, waiting to have his hair cut by me. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: London, England -23rd March, 2020: Scissors and a comb on the window sill. I bought carnations in a local flower shop before the lockdown. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: London, England - 23rd March, 2020: Maciej in our living room, waiting to have his hair cut by me. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

Image: London, England - 24th March, 2020: A self-portrait, reading an angry note from our neighbors downstairs asking us to "keep it down during the self-isolation period". (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
SINGLE
London, England - March, 2020: A self-portrait in the mirror. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
London, England - 22nd March, 2020: Cabbage head in our kitchen. I am using it to make Polish dish called "gołąbki" - cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and mince. I make a big batch and freeze it. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: London, England - March, 2020: A self-portrait in the mirror. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: London, England - 22nd March, 2020: Cabbage head in our kitchen. I am using it to make Polish dish called "gołąbki" - cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and mince. I make a big batch and freeze it. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

London, England - 26th March, 2020: A view of the communal garden, taken during my solitary walk. My husband goes to therapy twice a week, but because of the lockdown, he now has to call his therapist. To give him his privacy, I leave the house for an hour. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH LEFT
London, England - 26th March, 2020: Bouquets of dried flowers tied to the traffic barrier. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
DIPTYCH RIGHT

LEFT: London, England - 26th March, 2020: A view of the communal garden, taken during my solitary walk. My husband goes to therapy twice a week, but because of the lockdown, he now has to call his therapist. To give him his privacy, I leave the house for an hour. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH LEFT. RIGHT: London, England - 26th March, 2020: Bouquets of dried flowers tied to the traffic barrier. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post) DIPTYCH RIGHT

Image: London, England - 25th March, 2020: Our shadows in the park. (Photo by Tori Ferenc/ For The Washington Post)
CLOSING SINGLE

Hannah Reyes Morales — Norfolk County, Mass.

“When the Philippine government announced that Manila would go on lockdown to prevent the spread of covid-19, my husband and I made the difficult choice to fly to America,” said Hannah Reyes Morales, 29, born in the Philippines. “As the pandemic disrupted life across the globe, we looked at our options for sheltering in place. Like many others, the choices were troublesome.”

While their lives are in the Philippines, Hannah and her husband, Jon, felt the threat was too high in a country with an overburdened health-care system — one where there are fewer than 2500 intensive care beds for more than a 100 million people. So, since March 15, they have taken shelter in Boston’s South Shore, where Jon’s family has been living for almost 40 years “They moved here across different times of turbulence for Philippine society,” Hannah said. “Jon’s grandfather, Papa Beck, moved to Quincy during martial law in the early 1980s. His father worked with the U.S. Navy. ‘My father told me about America,’ Papa Beck said. His son Dennis, my husband’s father, moved during the Philippine coup attempts in the late ’80s.”

Hannah and Jon now look for safety inside the physical structures of homes. “Staying home means safety from the virus, but also from the rising xenophobia against Asians and Asian Americans,” she said, as until recently, President Trump continued to call the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.”

“While shopping for groceries, I hear my husband speak a little louder, making his American accent more pronounced, changing his body language so we might appear less of a threat in a country where he grew up being called 'chink’ and ‘spic,’ ” she added. ‘You get used to hard things,’ Papa Beck once told me. Though I am not moving here, I am seeing America through a gaze that isn’t so far from theirs when they first arrived. As we enter this unsettling period of history, I am reminded of the fragility of place, and the importance of what others built long ago so we can breathe a little easier. Under the bleak New England sky, and in grief and desperation, I hold on to traces of things that feel like home.”

Hannah and Jon visited Papa Beck and his wife, Mama Nel, over the weekend. “We said hello, and I thought about the safety their choices afforded my husband. Through the door frame, and through glass, the tiny act of keeping distance was the only way we could ensure theirs.”

Image: QUINCY, MA- Snow falls outside our window. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA-  Jon (right) and his father Dennis (left) visit Papa Beck (center, right) in his home, where he lives with his other son Eric (center right). They do not come in to be safe.  (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA-  Jon wears a rubber glove. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

LEFT: QUINCY, MA- Jon (right) and his father Dennis (left) visit Papa Beck (center, right) in his home, where he lives with his other son Eric (center right). They do not come in to be safe. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post) . RIGHT: QUINCY, MA- Jon wears a rubber glove. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

Image: QUINCY, MA- A swing set is blocked off from use in New England. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA-  Jon reads news about the Philippines on his phone. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA- Plastic butterflies are seen in a tree in the yard of Dennis Gonzales' home. In the daytime we dream of butterfly migrations and flight. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

LEFT: QUINCY, MA- Jon reads news about the Philippines on his phone. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post) . RIGHT: QUINCY, MA- Plastic butterflies are seen in a tree in the yard of Dennis Gonzales' home. In the daytime we dream of butterfly migrations and flight. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

Image: QUINCY, MA-  A photograph of Jon and his father, during their first year together in America. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
Image: QUINCY, MA- Umberto Gonzales (Papa Beck) gazes out of the window of his home during a family visit. Originally from the Philippines, Umberto settled in New England, where his grandson now takes shelter as the pandemic disrupts life across the globe. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA-  Still life inside Jon's father's home.(Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)
QUINCY, MA-  Jon and his father in the driveway. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

LEFT: QUINCY, MA- Still life inside Jon's father's home.(Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post) . RIGHT: QUINCY, MA- Jon and his father in the driveway. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

Image: QUINCY, MA- A photograph I took years ago, during Papa Beck's 90th birthday. (Hannah Reyes Morales For The Washington Post)

Cate Dingley — New York

Cate Dingley’s apartment is filled with objects that remind her of the people and places she holds fondly in her heart. There’s the grapefruit that makes her think of Graham and Lane. There’s a statue that brings her back to New Mexico. Or that old sweater from Papa. With these objects, Cate creates scenes for them, scenes that help her deal with the confusing emotions her quarantine has brought.

“I started isolating on March 11, two days after my birthday,” she said. “On the ninth, I had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with thousands of other people. And then the feeling in New York seemed to change overnight — suddenly, people were wearing masks and panic-buying at the grocery store.”

Cate, 31, has found calm in her isolation. “The manic pace of life here has ground to a halt. It’s hard to find energy when you look out your window and it seems like the world has stopped,” she said. “My family and friends have always lived all over the United States and the world, and we’re used to seeing each other infrequently. But knowing we’re unable to visit, and feeling constant underlying anxiety for their health, makes the distance harder to live with.”

That’s why, through her photographs, she seeks to get closer to them. “I wanted to reference not only the stronger feelings like anxiety and fear but also the mundane ones, like boredom and exhaustion. And by making these photographs, I tell them I love them.”

Image: NEW YORK, NY- Your Old Sweater. (for Papa) Cate Dingley For The Washington Post
Image: NEW YORK, NY- Statue (for New Mexico).  (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
NEW YORK, NY- Birds & Moths (for Isabel & Manuel). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
NEW YORK, NY- Hand & Books (for Graham). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)

LEFT: NEW YORK, NY- Birds & Moths (for Isabel & Manuel). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post). RIGHT: NEW YORK, NY- Hand & Books (for Graham). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)

Image: NEW YORK, NY- Screen time. (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
NEW YORK, NY- Still life with precious objects.  (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
NEW YORK, NY- Self portrait in mirror (for Phil). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)

LEFT: NEW YORK, NY- Still life with precious objects. (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post). RIGHT: NEW YORK, NY- Self portrait in mirror (for Phil). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)

Image: NEW YORK, NY- In bed (for me). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
Image: NEW YORK, NY- Grapefruit (for Graham & Lane). (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)
Image: NEW YORK, NY-Feeling the rain.  (Cate Dingley For The Washington Post)

M’hammed Kilito — Marrakesh, Morocco

M’hammed Kilito, 39, was in Europe when the Moroccan government announced it would be closing the border. “I was lucky enough to make it on the last plane home,” he said. But that relief turned into loneliness. Afraid that he might have covid-19, M’hammed decided to quarantine himself for 14 days, away from his parents. “If I hadn’t been in Europe, I think I would have been with my family like the majority of Moroccans who have been reunited to live these moments of confinement together.”

During these 14 days alone, M’hammed photographed his life away from other people. “I started to abide to a boxing routine,” he said. “I took up the trumpet, which I hadn’t touched in five years. I also spent time reading.” Near the end of his confinement, the lack of a human connection started taking its toll. “I lost the will to do anything. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to listen to music. I didn’t want to cook,” he said. But there was always the light at the end of the tunnel of self-containment: to be reunited with his parents and his brother.

“After 14 days, I was able to join them, which did me a lot of good,” he said. “Finally, human contact.”

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: Autoportrait before going out. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: An empty street in Marrakesh (left) and my bike, standing unused (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

LEFT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: Autoportrait before going out. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post). RIGHT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: An empty street in Marrakesh (left) and my bike, standing unused (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: An authorization sheet to go outside (left) and the view from my window (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: Advice from authorities on how to deal with covid-19 (left) and my boxing equipment (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

LEFT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: An authorization sheet to go outside (left) and the view from my window (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post). RIGHT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: Advice from authorities on how to deal with covid-19 (left) and my boxing equipment (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My mother (left) and a garden near my parents' house that has been cordoned off (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My father. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

LEFT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My mother (left) and a garden near my parents' house that has been cordoned off (right). (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post). RIGHT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My father. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My brother, playing video games. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)
MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My dad has been very sick for two months because of high-blood pressure. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

LEFT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My brother, playing video games. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post). RIGHT: MARRAKESH, MOROCCO: My dad has been very sick for two months because of high-blood pressure. (Photo by M'hammed Kilito/For The Washington Post)

About this story

Photo editing by Chloe Coleman, Karly Domb Sadof and Olivier Laurent. Text by Olivier Laurent and Brian Murphy. Design and development by Jake Crump.