Not long ago, I asked that you “imagine being cooped up in a hotel room. Sitting and looking out your window, down into the empty streets through which only every few minutes does a car pass. The government has instructed you to stay inside and not leave your building.” Within a month of writing about this happening in China, our fantasy became an actuality. The restrictions have constricted us from our countries to our rooms. For once, that three-day weekend we pled for has been extended, encouraged, and willingly given to us. Suddenly in possession of so much time, a question arises: Now, what do we do?
Since school was closed, we have had to relocate our learning environments into our homes to study alongside our relatives. Yipee! Those of us lacking tech-savviness have had to teach ourselves to do the simplest tasks such as uploading videos or attending virtual meetings. I am consistently checking my school email five times daily for fear that I might miss an important announcement. I remind myself to keep track of how many times I exchange a few words with my teachers. The amount of tolerance I have reserved for my sibling is wearing dangerously thin. I guiltily take comfort in the fact that over 55 million students in the U.S. find themselves in similar situations. Many school districts — including ours — are considering keeping campuses locked down until the next academic year.
Aside from educational struggles, we look to find ways of escaping reality. Social media programs and media-service providers are seeing increased use on their platforms. People are eating enough to give rise to a new expression referred to as “COVID-15,” relating the amount of weight gain during freshman year of college (Freshman 15) to the weight gain during shelter-in-place orders. And interestingly, pet shelters are noticing an immense increase in space — why not get an animal companion to snuggle with when you are feeling alone? Thankfully, people have not given up exercise, as you will find couples strolling on sidewalks at careful distances from passersby.
The changes that come with the sheltering-in-place guidelines are unreal. Roads are crazily quiet from the decrease in automobile traffic. Due to this, oil prices are plummeting by historically large amounts. Blocks of non-essential stores are closing their doors. So are sit-down restaurants. Stores that do stay open are full of empty shelves and crates. It is so strange to wait outside of Costco before being let in and seeing all of the signs reminding you to keep a social distance of six feet.
Life is opened to an absurd and unnerving chapter nowadays. Humanity has had to make extensive alterations in day-to-day routines to stifle the spread and “flatten the curve.” It is a lot to get used to, and hopefully, we do not have to get used to it for too long. We all must do our part in fending off more casualties, so for now, get some sun (preferably in your backyard) and try not to touch anything in the process.