Quarantine: The New Normal

This quarantine didn’t mean much to me at first. I figured that I would just get to do all of my work at home.  It started to become real to me about three days after school was cancelled when my friend’s father broke up a gathering I was at due to concerns about the virus. 

Just a few days after that my family received notice from the Health Department stating that we could not leave our house due to the fact that my mother may have been exposed to the coronavirus. On the same day the department contacted us, I sat alone and watched John Oliver without an audience. That’s when things really began to sink in.  

Over the last eight days I’ve felt oddly lonely. I didn’t go out with friends much anyway before this whole thing happened, yet I still feel like I’m alone and cold in these times. I’ve stopped doing any activities and spend most of my time working on homework in my attic. 

Being isolated has made me realize a few things. Prior to the distance-learning decision, I would go to school, get home, sit at my desk, do homework, read, and talk with friends. Now, I wake up, sit at my desk, do homework, read, watch videos, and talk with friends. It has kind of made me realize how much of a rut I have been in for the past year. 

Furthermore, I feel like I can’t do the things that make me who I am. I was planning to start running and doing other things in order to prepare for lifeguarding over the summer, yet I am now virtually trapped inside my house. I looked up some at-home dumbbell exercises but I just feel like an old man while doing them.  I can’t tutor kids at the local library, meet with the literary magazine, go to debate club, or work at the student advisory board. 

On the first day church opens back up I know that I will be going just for the sake of being in a crowd of people and shaking hands. This has made me realize how much of my identity is based on being with other people and contributing things that aren’t even directly related to me – clubs, the local library, the community pool, and so on. This is not an experience unique to me. My grandfather who is a pastor at a hospital has been put on leave due to this virus. One of the most meaningful things in his life, the thing that he fills his days with and spends most of his time thinking about, is gone for now.

This experience has also made me cynical about the incompetence of the federal government.  I watch the president go on television and claim that everything is fine, while people I know who work in healthcare are telling me horror stories. The hospitals around us don’t even have enough tests to test doctors and nurses who have fevers and have been touching people all day. Hospitals in our area are having sanitizer dispensers ripped off the wall and stolen while they are being forced to ration face masks. On the same day that the administration told the nation on television that they were producing enough tests for everyone who wants one to get one, nurses I know personally were telling a different story. A story in which nurses with fevers went to work anyway, where hospitals were running out of disinfectant wipes, and where there were only seven tests available in the whole hospital for a week so it was virtually impossible to get one.

The final thing I have found out is that it’s hard to manage my time without going to school. My whole routine, from taking a shower in the morning to eating lunch, was based off of going to school. Now that school is gone I can say with confidence that It takes me 15-20 percent more time to do the same work at home.

I fear for the economy. If there is no production because no one is at work, there can be no economy. I fear that we will have a crash as big as the Great Depression, that prices will go up as production falls and demand rises and that people will starve. I fear that the federal government will suspend elections due to the virus.  I know this is unlikely but it still freaks me out. I fear that we will never be able to pay off this massive debt that we are now building. I fear that there might be more pandemics and that this might be a once a decade thing, and not a once in a lifetime. 

Here’s advice I can give everyone that I myself am following:  call your grandparents more often. Many of them may be isolated for weeks and weeks. It truly makes grandparents happy when they get a call from their grandkids, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to in these lonely times.