The Quarantine Lifestyle
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a distinct and lasting impact on my life and the life of my family. I chose to interview them instead of telling my story directly from my perspective because the experience of living during these stay-at-home orders and cancellation of life as we knew it is just as much their story as it is mine. My dad Stuart, my mother Michele, and my sister Mariel are the people I’m hunkered down with, and the reality is that we have shared this experience together, so in a way, their story is mine too.
One of the lessons the pandemic has taught us is that any force out of our control can come in and blow apart our best-laid plans. My sister had so many plans as she finished her Junior year of high school, which is pivotal to deciding her future. Mariel can’t take her college entrance exams that she’s been preparing all year for, and campus visits are on hold. The important steps she has to take towards picking a college are getting pushed back, but she still has to pick a school and graduate by next June, coronavirus notwithstanding.
My mother dealt with a major interruption to her life as well. She was getting back into optometry after years of homemaking for the family in recent months, but after so many years out of the workforce, she was working to get acclimated to the fully digital workforce we have these days. After weeks of training, she was almost ready to begin her role, and then nonessential businesses were closed in New Jersey, ending her return to work.
It’s a common refrain among most people, but one of the big positives of this otherwise mundane and lonely time period is that we haven’t had much choice but to grow closer as a family. We’ve all watched countless movies together, gone on walks, and baked the equivalent of a grocery store bakery counter by now. The amount of banana bread I’ve eaten the past two months is comical.
My sister and I have grown especially close during this time, and we’ve logged dozens of hours into our Nintendo Switch. We are either shelling each other in MarioKart or blasting each other off the stage in Super Smash Bros. No matter what game we play, we are laughing like maniacs the whole time.
One of the more unique aspects of our life during quarantine has been where we actually reside. My parents are divorced, but my father lives in a nearby development, making it easy to see both of my parents. In a time when there’s no school for me or my sister to go to, we spend a week at a time with our mother, and then switch to our dad’s house after. It allows us to spend time with them both, while also keeping the family dynamic from getting too stale, as cabin fever gets to us all.
On that note, one of the biggest challenges has been sharing space, and respecting everyone’s needs. Since I’ve been home, I’ve had to complete my course work remotely, through Zoom lectures or live chat instruction, and Mariel has to do her work for high school. My dad basically gets the main floor of his townhouse to himself on weekdays, as he usually sits on conference calls for as much as 12 hours a day. This leaves only the basement office in his house, so I often do schoolwork in my room. In my mother’s house, we have a loft and a basement, so it works out better there.
The quarantine lifestyle has been a huge adjustment for us, and it seems that our new normal will be different from what we lived before. I can only hope that we eventually get past this trying time and come out stronger on the other side.
Social distancing with my family during Spring 2020.