Experiencing COVID-19 Together Alone
A week in a semi-quarantined life.
March 31, 2020
There is a deadly virus sweeping the world and it now has its vicious gaze set upon the United States. Already, some states are under a government-enforced quarantine, states with real people, states with my friends. Every day the government speaks affirmation and uncertainty, all in one breath. People are not losing their minds so much as their minds are running away from them, chasing after that last roll of toilet paper.
My days have felt average in every facet of the word. Except the thing is, nothing about this situation is average in the slightest.
Monday- March 23
I woke up today to my mom banging on my door. At that time, it was already 10. What reason did I have to be so tired? Could it be that I was up late doing schoolwork? Or possibly that I had discovered a fascinating book? Or even that I was watching 80’s movies to pass the time?
The answer is D. None of the above. The sad truth is, I unintentionally ruined my sleep schedule, just because I could. As soon as I got up for my mom, I went to my dad’s house and went back to sleep. COVID-19: one, me: zero.
Then of course, there was school or, perhaps more accurately, the lack thereof. The problem does not rest with my teachers or even their assignments. The problem is me. That is the beginning and end of it. I sat in front of a computer screen for an hour and accomplished nothing. I was not on my phone, I was not occupied with anything else, I just sat there.
I became so engrossed in doing nothing that I forgot to eat, which has become a regular occurrence. No thought of food ever even crossed my mind until my brother offered to go get some. When he got back, I ate, not because I was hungry, but because there was nothing else to do.
The sun set and took any will I had to continue my struggle to focus. My family and I watched a movie, and not just any movie. We watched a movie that was in theaters. In response to COVID-19 and theaters closing, new movies have been released to streaming platforms to buy straight away. It was strange to me in the way that looking at a rearranged room is: not completely different, just a new normal.
That night, I did not get ahead in school. I did not lose myself in the pages of a book. I did not become entranced by old movies. The sad truth is, I unintentionally ruined my sleep schedule, just because I could.
Tuesday- March 24
I would like to say that this morning I got back on track and woke up at nine only to eat a fruit bowl, workout and finish school, all before 12. I would like to say that as soon as I was free, I took my dog on a walk and played frisbee with my family, only to go inside and watch movies with the taste of milk and cookies in my mouth.
I would like to say that I did anything besides stare at screens all day, stuck in my room, only to do more of the same come night. Unfortunately, I cannot say any of this.
What I can say is that I have never been so sick of looking at screens in my life. I know, the unthinkable has happened: the iGen has become sick of our iPhones. We have been forced to do everything with the handicap of a screen—we only see our friends on FaceTime, we only get new music or books through the Internet and even learning must be online now. I, for one, am sick of it. There is nothing like a deadly virus to make me want to get off of my phone, go back to school and cure junioritis (hey, it is real, trust me).
Even as I write this, I opted for the old-fashioned paper and pencil over a keyboard—I will handle that when I cannot sleep tonight, because I accidentally ruined my sleep schedule, just because I could.
Wednesday- March 25
Last night, I stayed awake until roughly six in the morning. Oddly enough, I do not regret it. I spent the lost hours of the night finding old friends that are otherwise unavailable and new friends in a different light. One thing I have learned: there is nothing like a sleeping world to allow the restless to dream.
Beyond that, this minute similarity, just being awake at the same magical, albeit ill-advised, time, made me feel slightly less alone.
Today, I sat on my roof and tanned—insignificant really. Except that, many of my friends were doing the same thing, some by a pool, some on the ground and others at a lake. It is just tanning, a minor detail, but it connects us. In what has become a world of isolation, we are together.
Thursday- March 26
I did the unthinkable today, the last resort, the absurd. I dyed my hair. Purple. Not the whole thing, I did not go that crazy, and I did not give myself haphazardly cut bangs either. I took one piece of innocent hair and turned it purple.
The result: it sure is purple, but not noticeably so. I do not look like someone that others would walk away from in the street, but then again, not much walking in the street these days, is there?
I do not regret it. In fact, I am proud. In an out-of-control world, I took one piece of hair into my own hands. Besides, I went on an adventure to get the dye (along with milk and eggs but, let us focus on what really matters here: teen angst).
Publix was stocked full of paranoid moms and not much else. Walgreens was the true hero in my story. They had exactly what I needed and even a touch of normalcy that I had not known that I craved. The cashier happened to be the same one my friends and I had befriended after a study session earlier in the year. He asked me about them and in turn, I asked him about his latex gloves.
After that, I got Chick-Fil-A, because what else am I expected to do when they could close down any day now? After a cheery girl took my order, a pair of workers joked with me about my car—from six feet away, of course.
Everything is different, yet it all still has a touch of the same. People my age are still at work, just keeping their distance. My cashier is still friendly, just a little more cautious. Publix is still, ‘Where shopping is a pleasure,’ just a little more empty. My hair is still brown, just a little more colorful.
The world is sometimes hard to recognize these days, but it is still there.
Friday- March 27
I have felt COVID-19 in all of its glory. No, I am not insinuating that I have the virus. I am saying that I went all over town just to find some toilet paper. And they did not even have the good kind. I ended up where I am sure everyone ends up at one point or another in their lives: check-out aisle eight of Kroger as my arms overflowed with food because I had been too stubborn to get a basket.
In the short time that I embarked on this adventure, I saw everyone. I saw the girl that sits in the back of my Spanish class, the boy who eats lunch across the cafeteria from me, one of my best friends’ little sisters and my prom date. I also learned that prom will not be happening until June 27, my birthday, which is insane but a story for another day. I did not stop and chat in the line of Dollar General, I did not even get the chance to say hi. Each person I encountered, I did so only from the comfort of my car.
We all had everywhere and nowhere to go, all in the same drive. In the separation that everyone is experiencing, we are together.