Better Than a HEPA Filter

Monday, March 7, 2022

Part 4 of a photo series on life after 2020. When I stepped onto a boat for the first time since 2020, I felt tension unraveling from its spool in my chest. On the ferry deck, the air and water swirled past in parallel slipstreams. Inhales were fresh and slightly salty. There was no one else up on deck, and the gusts of wind tore at the flags hoisted above and quickly numbed my lips. Standing at the edge of the ship, rocking in the waves, felt safer than seeing any of the posters proclaiming the effectiveness of HEPA filters that had popped up to reassure passengers outside boarding gates, safer than when people at a restaurant half slipped on their masks between eating or drinking. The sound of the motors underfoot was drowned out by the whoosh of the air hurtling past. Nowadays, we are more conscious of air, air zones, air circulation, and one can easily imagine small dot-sized particles puffing out in small clouds from each nose and mouth and bobbing softly downward. I wonder when we will lose this knowledge, this extra sense, or if it will linger.