Last winter started out so well, I had no idea how much everything would change. The pandemic has taken away life as we knew it but has left me counting my blessings.
In January I heard of a virus that had made its way to the United States. I barely gave it a thought, assuming it would go the way of other viruses in the news, affecting a few people here and there and then dying down. I didn’t think a real pandemic could happen except in the unlikely case of a biological weapon attack.
I had taken a semester off school and traveled out of state. A few people in the airport had masks. It was an accessory I had no plans to acquire.
While I was gone my brother warned me to be careful while traveling, because of the COVID-19 virus. I wasn’t worried. It would be gone soon, I thought. Shortly after that he canceled his family’s trip to Florida. They were worried about germs on the plane, and my nephew had a cough, so they were afraid they might not be allowed to board the plane back. This was when things suddenly became real for me. Everyday travel being dangerous? My nephew potentially being trapped in another state? It was now affecting my family.
Soon after I heard that Ohio was basically going to close, a situation so bizarre it felt unreal. I had plans to fly home, but my husband was concerned about me being exposed to the virus in the airport, so he drove to pick me up. We had researched whether gas stations and rest stops would be open. As we drove, we passed mostly semis as there were hardly any other cars on the road. It was a lonely feeling.
At home I tried to keep myself busy. My husband was working from home, so it was nice having him around even though he spent most of the day in his office. It was boring not going anywhere and knowing that even if we left the house almost nothing would be open. I got a mask and wore it to the only place I could go, the grocery store.
I didn’t even visit any immediate family members, which was the strangest thing of all.
I tried to be mature about it as it became summer and I couldn’t do most of the things I wanted to do. This would be over someday, and I didn’t want to feel sorry for myself for not being able to go to the pool when some people were suffering and dying. Eventually my immediate family began having small outdoor gatherings and that made life less monotonous.
My summer class was online but that was what I expected, and I didn’t really mind.
My husband surprised me by putting a small pool up on the deck and after walking around the neighborhood I was happy to find out I was not the only adult passing time by sitting in a kiddie pool.
Some relatives had plans to meet for my grandma’s birthday and I was looking forward to seeing people I hadn’t seen in months. The day of the party my dad texted me that he was sick and couldn’t go. I had visited him recently and if it was the COVID-19 virus I had been exposed. I spent the day in somewhat of a panic. As I prepared to quarantine myself completely, I found myself less worried about what I would miss because of the shutdown and more worried about my family. I didn’t care how boring this year was as long as my family made it through okay.
Eventually my dad’s COVID-19 test came back negative. I was so relieved. I never did visit any extended family, but I am happy knowing they are healthy.
As the next semester approached, I allowed myself to hope that at least one of my classes would be in person. I like the actual school experience of being on campus and interacting with other people. When I found out they would be online I was a little disappointed but was pleased that one at least allowed us to meet over Collaborate. Once that class started the other students asked if we could leave the cameras off and the instructor agreed. I have to admit I am disappointed about this because I wanted to see the other people. These online situations might be ideal for introverts but not for me.
The restaurant job I had thought about going back to downsized its staff so for that reason and others I never returned. I am only doing school at the moment and since I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning, I have reverted to my natural schedule of staying up late and sleeping in. Then I spend the afternoon studying. Then suddenly the day is over, and I do the same thing the next day. I hope eventually I can have some in-person classes. I know safety is the most important thing, but I still hope for some more interesting experiences.
I definitely took normal life for granted before, such as planning an event with multiple people and knowing it would take place. Worst-case scenario it would rain, and you would have to have it indoors. Now I know that everything can be potentially canceled because of a rise in disease cases and that family members can be a threat to each other’s health. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Recently, after being postponed for months, and holding some of the rehearsals over Zoom, the studio where I dance held its yearly recital. It was supposed to be spaced out into four acts over several days to reduce the amount of audience and dancers present. But though families usually camp out to be the first to buy tickets, not enough people bought them this year to afford renting out our alternative location, a party center, for four days. So, we held dress rehearsals and allowed people to watch them. A little anticlimactic, and a little odd for the tappers dancing on carpeting, but better than nothing.
Who knows what the future holds for events like these? I can’t imagine we will be performing to a packed auditorium any time soon.
This year’s dance classes start soon, and that will bring a little bit of activity to my life, although with distancing, health checks, masks and lots of sanitizing.
I plan to appreciate every chance I have to go places and see people, because I know it can all be taken away. And even if we gain access to a vaccine, life may never be quite the same. But maybe someday it will improve.
We can hope.