Life in Lockdown

Story/Video posted May 2, 2020 in Covid-19 by Kayla Simmons.

The danger of Covid-19 is real for my family and me. We live in New York City, a coronavirus hotspot that is home to a third of all cases of Covid-19 in the Unted States.

My mother, Natasha Howard, is a corrections officer at Riker's Island, a jail that is being described as a a public health disaster. My father, Divere Simmons, must travel through the city to get to his job as a security guard. Fortunately my nana, Cheryl Howard, works from our Brooklyn home, where I have been socially distant (marooned) since classes were moved online six weeks ago at Penn State.

This is our story.

The lockdown has forced everyone to adjust to a new normal. From remote learning, to social distancing, to working from home, every aspect of life has changed. My family is on lockdown in our hometown of Brooklyn, the heart of the pandemic. It is scary to know that so many people here are getting sick, and I worry about my parents who are essential workers. 

The biggest change for my family is having the ability to spend so much quality time together. When I was five hours away at Penn State, I only saw my family every two months or so, but with the rest of the semester transitioned to online I am able to see them every day. Dinner is a meal I no longer enjoy with my roommate, but with my Mom, Dad and Nana.

Being told that we would no longer return to campus was devastating at first. It was bigger than having to move to online classes and do assignments from home. For me it signified the loss of friends that had become so ingrained in my daily routine that I now consider them family. Not having a chance to say goodbye and have one last celebration was hard to accept.

Graduation was also canceled. The univeristy planned a virtual graduation for May 9, but after working so hard to obtain two majors and a minor in four years, I felt bitter. The unfairness of it all was the only thing I could think of until my mom reminded me of how much I have to be grateful for.

QmVjYXVzZSBvZiBzb2NpYWwgZGlzdGFuY2luZywgQ2hlcnlsIEhvd2FyZCBjYW4gbm8gbG9uZ2VyIHZpc2l0IHRoZSBiZWF1dHkgc2hvcCwgc28gdGhlIGpvYiBvZiBicmFpZGluZyBOYW5hJiMwMzk7cyBoYWlyIGdvZXMgdG8gaGVyIGdyYW5kZGF1Z2h0ZXIgS2F5bGEgU2ltbW9ucy4=Because of social distancing, Cheryl Howard can no longer visit the beauty shop, so the job of braiding Nana's hair goes to her granddaughter Kayla Simmons.

Having the chance to be home with my family has really caused me to reflect on how often we take our time with our loved ones for granted. Prior to lockdown, It was virtually impossible to spend time with my Nana during the week. Now, we spend hours laughing and talking while binge watching our favorite shows. 

Since the hair salons are closed, I have been taking on the task of braiding my Nana's hair for her. It is nice to help her feel and look good despite all of the scary things happening in the world. My family has also been making home cooked meals more, and we have tried a couple new recipes that we really enjoy.

The best thing that has come out of this quarantine for me has definitely been the opportunity to slow down a bit. In life, we are always on the go for work, school, or leisure activities. It is nice to be able to sit back and focus on myself, reread books I used to love, and pick up old hobbies that I had abandoned due to lack of time.

Adjusting to a new way of living has been hard, and yet I have been able to find good in this whole ordeal. I am not sure when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, but I anticipate it happening within the next two months or so. I will do my best to remain optimistic and shelter in place patiently until the city reopens.