words and photos by Ilenia Pezzaniti

Between two towering trees in Highland Square, a hammock lay strung and sagging. Artist Serena Shortridge, 21, was lying inside, reading a book. 

Serena spends a lot of time doing her own thing and though she hasn’t been deeply impacted by the current pandemic and its circumstances, she’s still aware of the everyday shift it’s caused, “I’m a very introverted person so I have a lot of hobbies to put my time into. But just the loss of routine, I guess, and normalcy, in some aspects can kind of wear on you, you know?” she says.

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Serena’s a student and didn’t have a job to lose at the time that Governor DeWine’s mandatory lockdown commenced, but the people in her life have had different experiences, “A lot of my friends right now are out of jobs, so I know that’s super stressful. Like my roommate right now- she works at a bakery and they’re closed down right now. I’ve just been watching it have a lot of effect on people I know in my personal life. I go to Akron for school and we’re doing online classes until the end of the semester so that’s pretty weird, too,” she says.

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In March, Akron businesses were forced to close their doors, some not knowing if they are ever going to reopen. Many are able to do curbside pickup and while it may not be enough to keep some of the businesses afloat until the lockdown is lifted, the surrounding community has been  ordering food and drinks to go to show their support. Serena admires the comradery of her community.

“In certain aspects, it’s a kind of a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of feeling, you know, so that’s kind of nice. I’ve also seen the community pull together and try to save Angel Falls for a bit. People were donating money. In some ways I think it’s cool to see the community come together and try to make things happen for the businesses,” she says. 

Ilenia Pezzaniti is a multimedia storyteller and artist living in Highland Square.

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