A New Normal

Story/Video posted April 29, 2020 in Covid-19 by Brynn Laurash.

Since Penn State announced on March 16, 2020 that Penn State would no longer hold in person classes for the remainder of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been quarantined at home with my parents and my younger sister. If this time last year, you told me I wouldn’t be able to have an in person graduation or finish out my college career with my best friends, I wouldn’t believe you but now that has become a reality. 

In the last 24 hours, the United States has surpassed one million COVID-19 cases and the death toll is a reaching 59,000. I’m currently at my home in Cranbury, New Jersey where a stay at home order has been placed for a little over a month. New Jersey is getting hit hard with this virus with over 11,000 cases just in my county alone, Middlesex County, so my family is not taking these orders lightly and we have remained inside and away from others since Governor Phil Murphy has placed these new regulations. 

Though we live in a sad and scary time right now, my family and I have decided to use this time to our advantage and make the most of what we can with each other. 

My sister, Maddy, attends the University of Pittsburgh and just completed her sophomore year a week ago. They received the announcement that they would be online for the rest of the semester the same day I found out Penn State would be online for three weeks. Unfortunately, Penn State followed Pitt’s decision a few days later. I think most people would say that spending all day, every day for over a month with their sibling gets annoying after a while and going into this quarantine, I would agree but for Maddy and I, it’s been the exact opposite. We’ve been glued to the hip since we got home and have grown closer together, which is something I didn’t think could happen considering we were already close to begin with. Besides the typical lounging around, we’ve been trying to entertain each other and keep ourselves busy and she’s been my biggest blessing through one of the most unfortunate times of my life as a graduating senior. We’ve been working out together, making meals together, she’s been teaching me how to play the ukulele, and we’ve just been enjoying the time that we never thought we would have with each other. 

My dad isn’t one to share his emotions nor is he ever that serious in conversation, but I know he’s glad that my sister and I are home for a while. Maddy and I have started getting up at 7 a.m. to walk our dog, Barkley, so my dad can sleep in on some days. During the quarantine, I’ve used my extra free time to work on my art. I letter and do calligraphy projects and I finally made an Instagram account to share it with others. This was something I could never do at school and I’m excited I have the opportunity now to make up for it. My dad has been helping me get some of my artwork together and construct some pieces that I can create to post on my account. He also made his own Instagram account specifically to follow my art account and share it with others. He has never been on social media before and never showed any interest until I made my page and that was just something little that showed me how much my dad cares about me and wants to see me succeed. 

Usually being told that we have to stay at home until further notice would indicate that we have more time in the day to get things done but that’s quite the opposite for my mom. She works as a Licensing Manager for League Apparel but has been working at home since the stay at home order has been placed. They had to cut back hours and she now works half days but to keep her mornings busy, she takes care of my grandma. My grandma just turned 95 in March and we just celebrated her birthday on Zoom with my extended family. 

My grandma usually has helpers that come in every morning but since this pandemic has happened, my mom has taken over. On top of that, my mom works out every morning and walks the dog every night which means her plate is completely full this quarantine. 

The one aspect of this quarantine that has been keeping everyone in good spirits is Barkley, our 11-month-old Golden Retriever. Not only has he kept us entertained but he’s helped me become more active and productive throughout my days. Our newest activity has been playing soccer with him which keeps him, and the family entertained for hours. 

We’re lucky to have him and he has made this dark time a little brighter. 

As of right now, I’m not sure what the future holds for us. I think we’re all learning to live a new normal and this new normal will be around for a while. The best that my family and I can do right now is stay safe and try to make the most of the time we have together. When we all start returning to life after this pandemic, I’ll have a job and could possibly move to a different state. Maddy will be going back to school in the fall and my mom will be returning to work. This could be the last time that we ever get to be together for this long again and I want to take in every bit of that. So, for now, being healthy and being at home with my family is the best thing I could ask for. 

My Quarantine Art on Social Media