Who knew that something as seemingly normal as going for my usual morning walk would become an occasional outing? After practically being kicked out of my residence hall with the rest of my neighbors, I was quickly struck with this reality when I returned back to my hometown of Nassau in the Bahamas. When I think back on this time, I vividly remember a phone call I had with my dad on the day of my departure while waiting in the terminal, not even three days after the eviction announcement:
“Is there anywhere you can get a disposable mask and pair of gloves?” he said. He sounded worried, almost anxious, which is very unlike him.
It all makes sense now and I wish I had known then what I know now: the true severity of COVID-19 and my new normal that was to follow.
“Outside clothes in the bin!” “Make sure you disinfect that with the vinegar spray!” “Wipe down that area with the Clorox wipes!” “Please remember to wash your hands!”
The majority of the conversations I’d hear from the confinement of the four, paper-thin walls of my muggy bedroom consisted of variants of those four sentences. My seven-person household is always on the chaotic side, so with everyone home all at once, it was a madhouse. I was relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the stress of having my whole family together in one place for the following weeks. However, I did have to deal with my own type of stress: isolation.
Yes, my dad decided to keep me trapped in my room for exactly 14 days. Being the extra cautious guy that he is, he did not take the CDC-recommended two-week quarantine lightly. At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought, “Two weeks? Time is gonna fly!”
The first few days were extremely rocky. My appetite completely vanished, pajamas became my daily uniform and more than 75% of my day consisted of lying in bed and staring into the void of my popcorn ceiling. This, on top of hearing my siblings flip-flop in and out of the house from their daily ventures to the beach that I wasn’t allowed on, nearly pushed me to the brink of insanity.
After my third day, I had seen on the news that my country was in complete lockdown. Most public places were shut down, there were strict hours for grocery stores, hospitals and police stations in place and there were immense fines and other penalties for those who did not abide. It made me feel slightly better to know that other people were soon going to experience cabin fever too. I wouldn’t be alone.
So, really, my biggest challenge during this time was boredom. For lack of a better expression, I was bored out of my mind. Kind of anti-climactic, I know, but I did come to realize a very important truth. I recognized that the source of the constant weariness and feelings of helplessness stemmed from my lack of socialization. As strange as it might sound coming from an introvert who very much prefers her own company 75% of the time, those two weeks of quarantine were a bit lonely. Having gone from being a student with a part-time job, attending classes every day and tons of extracurriculars to a student who hadn’t been this not-busy since high school in the matter of a few days was just so strange for me
My time spent quarantined helped realize I missed being around people.
Sure, FaceTime is always an option, but in-person company is purely unmatched. I missed sharing a conch salad at the shack on the Junkanoo beach shoreline with my best friend. I missed rocking my little brother to sleep in my arms, usually falling asleep with him. I missed walking the streets of my neighborhood with my friends when the regularly scheduled power outages would come and our houses would become unbearably hot. I missed praying and holding hands with my Nana on her porch in the glow of the evening sunset — mosquitoes and all.
Being isolated made me appreciate how happy the people in my life make me. It’s these relationships that we create and the moments we share with them that make life more enjoyable and worth living.