I've been social distancing at home in NYC since November due to surgery, and I was just beginning to get back into a routine when coronavirus shut the city down. It's hard to explain what I've experienced over the past six months, because although much hasn't changed when it comes to my day-to-day, everything has drastically shifted.
When I first heard about the coronavirus, I didn't think much about it, nor did I know the extent to which it would impact myself and millions of people worldwide. It was the end of February, and I was returning to my daily routine: I'd take the subway to physical therapy, stop in the bodega steps from my front door, get a smoothie from my favourite juice shop, and make last-minute plans to catch up with my friends over dinner dates. At most, I figured things would be bad for a couple of weeks, but I was very wrong.
I began to realise the severity of the coronavirus after seeing numerous news reports on how the virus had engulfed Wuhan, China and how it was rampantly spreading in Washington State. That was in March. I found myself unsure as to what exactly was going on, how serious the virus was, and how concerned I should be. President Trump's delay in response didn't help either.
Even as companies began closing down their offices and having employees work remotely things felt "normal" for me being that I had been working from home since January. I had already developed a new normal, becoming accustomed to rarely hanging out with my friends and learning how to entertain myself during my recovery, but it's by no means easy. As someone who is extremely selective about who can be in my personal space and who I'm affectionate with, I find myself yearning for the most simple human touch like a hug.
I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm fortunate to have a job, to have a home, and to have good health.
Everything is on pause in NYC, which is eerie but also peaceful. On most days, I feel "normal." I have more time to cook, I've been organising and working on personal projects, but I do have my fair share of moments where I'm anxious about things like whether or not I'll lose my job, if I'll get COVID-19, what I'll do if I get the virus since I live alone and don't have family here, if the grocery stores will run out of food, and more.
My once hectic schedule which began at 4:30 a.m. and didn't end until 11 p.m., on a good day, has now been refined. I "go" to work. I walk every day for my mental and physical health. I try to meditate and journal. I go to the grocery store bi-weekly which has become one of my favourite things to do because I'm around other people — even if it means I have to wait in line for 40 minutes.
What's currently grounding me is daily FaceTime calls with my nieces, talking to my grandma when I take my daily walk around the park, ordering a pint of homemade chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from Sugar Hill Creamery, doing random research projects on things like Baroque architecture, cooking, and bingeing out on TV shows that my friends swear are award-worthy but end up being average, in my opinion. Although this time is difficult, complex, and full of a wide-range of emotions for everyone, I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm fortunate to have a job, to have a home, and to have good health because there are so many people, especially Black and brown people becoming infected and dying from the virus at disproportionately high rates.
I miss seeing kids zoom up and down my street on their scooters and bikes. I miss my neighbours playing dominoes every Thursday through Sunday with Anita Baker serenading our street in the background. I miss the crowds on 125th Street. But I know these minute events I once thought were mundane will return — and when they do, I'll appreciate them more than ever.