Arts·Pandemic Diaries

'Even when we're alone, we're alone together': An illustrated diary from fourteen days of isolation

Rebecca Roher shares an all-too-relatable record — in daily drawings — of two weeks in quarantine.

Rebecca Roher shares an all-too-relatable record — in daily drawings — of two weeks in quarantine

Crop of Day 9 of Rebecca Roher's Isolation Diaries. (Rebecca Roher)

Pandemic Diaries is a series of personal essays by Canadian writers and artists reflecting on their experiences during COVID-19. This special edition is an illustrated diary by cartoonist and educator Rebecca Roher.

After a hasty return from an artist residency in France, I went directly into quarantine for two weeks at a friend's empty Airbnb apartment in downtown Toronto. Having already been essentially isolated at my residency for the previous two and a half months, I was beginning to feel the effects on my mental health — such as a deep sadness at the impossibility of a hug — so I made diary comics to keep myself company and to mark the days which were otherwise beginning to blur.

In those first few weeks of increasing restrictions, so much was changing so quickly, and almost all the plans I had made for the upcoming months flew into uncertainty. Making these diary comics has been a great way to ground myself in the present, feel connection by putting something out into the world, and bring a little levity to a deeply worrying situation. It's ironic, and even a bit funny, that feeling alone at times is something we all as humans share — so even when we're alone, we're alone together.

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

About the Author

Rebecca Roher is a Toronto-based cartoonist and educator. Her debut graphic novel, Bird in a Cage, won the Doug Wright Award for Best Book in 2017. Her forthcoming book, One Hundred Year-old Wisdom, is based on interviews with centenarians about the secrets to long life and is set to be published with Drawn and Quarterly in 2022. Find her on Instagram as @rebsro and more on her website at rebeccaroher.com.

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