Quarantined Project

As I pull into the driveway it seems so calm. A couple of toys in the front yard. A swing. The shades are all closed and the light outside is peaceful. The car radio continues with the same news it has for weeks, background noise, as I catch the phrase COVID 19 over and over. I slide the gear shift into park and grab my camera.

I walk to the front of the house and see my friend pulling back the blinds. I haven’t seen her in a month. We both smile and she puts her hand to the window and I do the same. I see a tear roll down her cheek, both from the darkness she feels and for the relief of another familiar presence. I tear up as well and we both take a deep breath and start laughing. A nervous laugh, but we feel connected.

Here we go.

~ About The Project ~

It started as a personal project. Adam Kealing, a photographer who documents life’s most significant events, weddings. Found himself in a situation familiar to many, cut off from his profession, and distanced from his loved ones. With a stay at home order, weddings were certainly not happening, but life was, it just looked really different for a lot of people. “I went into this curious what my photographer eyes would see, looking through my friend’s window. How would I use my skills in this environment? What would it feel like to be in their company, separated by a thin pane of glass? I also figured I’d be able to give my friends a little gift this way too.”

Of course, things took on a life of their own, as most curiosities do, and what he experienced felt much more significant. He visited a friend, a new mother experiencing the desperation and exhaustion that accompanies a newborn, and seeing tears in her eyes as she struggled to simply sit comfortably with her baby. “It was just glass between us,” he says, “but I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t even give her a hug. No relief.”

One of the most striking things, Adam mentions, is how we’re all separated by so little. We’re all in these little boxes with walls, and roofs and doors. We’re really only feet apart from each other. We’re living these completely different realities, side by side, with no real knowledge of what was going on in the house next door. It’s nothing new, but something about the current circumstances has magnified it.

“I take my son for a walk every day, and I pass dozens of houses. To think that just weeks or months ago I didn’t really pay any attention seems strange, because now I pass each one wondering... what’s happening in this one, or this one. What does their life look like behind those walls? How are they? I can’t believe I’d never really wondered that before all of this.”

Adam makes it clear that he’s not pushing any agenda with this project. There’s no slogan. He’s not trying to change behavior or tell people to be better neighbors, although “if that happens because of it, that’s great”. He simply wants to show others what the rest of us don’t see, despite our close proximities.

From his own mother states away, quarantined alone and struggling with depression, the couple who postponed their wedding, yet is treating this as a homebound honeymoon, and his father in Houston, already on oxygen and suffering from COPD, told to stay home for six weeks, then six more weeks, and finally indefinitely.

Adam says, “Being so close to the ones we love but separated by a pane of glass can be heartbreaking and full of love at the same time. Seeing tears stream down my friend’s faces, and watching another breastfeed her week-old daughter, it’s hard to feel so close. You want to reach out and console them or give a hug of congratulations! But you can’t. One piece of glass separates our human connection. And I’m telling y’all that story.”