• Benia Szewczyk-Lagowska

  • Poland - Calgary

Art by Emily Honderich

Benia Szewczyk-Lagowska story

Benia Szewczyk-Lagowska comes from Poland and immigrated to Canada in 2011. She graduated as an Early Childhood Education teacher at Bow Valley College in Calgary and is passionate about classic literature, jazz music and Canadian Indigenous art and history.

The Eye Contact

I stand at the bus stop crying. It is March 16, 2020 and I get laid off from my school job because of Covid-19. I already miss the children, the laughs in the hallways, the teachers and even my boss! The lockdown approaches. I see people with stashes of toilet paper that they cannot eat. In public I get peculiar looks when I stand too close, and I hear offensive comments when my son forgets his 2 meters apart. I am not very good with the English metrics, but 6 feet seems like quite a distance to me. The playgrounds are closed and when my son understands that he cannot play with other children anymore, he asks: “Can I keep the eye contact?” Yes, we need to stimulate our eyes even more now to tell others what we think with that mask on. My face is put on mute. I meet people with bizarre grins on their masks. Is that a 3D IMAX experience? Justin Bieber sings intentionally to "cook your own bread". And with Covid I definitely go back to my roots. My grey roots!

The last month of my schooling moves online and Zoom sounds like vroom, vroom with all that background noise and too many small faces on the screen to embrace with my eyes. Again, my voice is on mute and my face freezes but I become a 2020 graduate. Miserable - hip, hip hurrah! Media screams: Cover your face! Clean your hands with alcohol. Covid stinks. Literally, like a drunk. Oh, and I need to watch my speaking moistly voice. The new normal… So, is there a new me too?

"I am not very good with the English metrics, but 6 feet seems like quite a distance to me. The playgrounds are closed and when my son understands that he cannot play with other children anymore, he asks: “Can I keep the eye contact?” Yes, we need to stimulate our eyes even more now to tell others what we think with that mask on."

- Benia Szewczyk-Lagowska