The coronavirus quarantine officially kicked off for my family when the kids’ schools announced a two-week closure at the end of the day on Friday, March 13, 2020. Friday the 13th. Seems appropriate.
Coronavirus was already a scary addition to the daily news by then, but it wasn’t really until the week leading up to that Friday the 13th that life truly started changing. Throughout that week, worries that felt far away were validated with major events.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
The stock market was scaring people like me into NOT checking their 401(k)s.
The NBA suspended the rest of their season.
Tom Hanks revealed that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.
Social media posts revolved around events and travel plans that were getting canceled.
I went to the grocery store four times in one week to prepare for hunkering down in my house.
I questioned whether or not my teenage son should shake hands with the woman interviewing him for what was supposed to be his first job, dousing him in hand sanitizer once the interview was over.
Stress levels were already so high that by that Friday the 13th in March, I was pitching an essay I wrote about using meditation to cope with coronavirus anxiety. But even then, even when the schools closed and I was stocking up at the grocery store, wondering why people were hoarding toilet paper, I had no clue how much more challenging the situation was going to get.
Now here we are on April 13, a month after my kids’ last day of school, a month after our quarantine started, a month of a completely new reality. It’s mind-numbing to think of all the changes the last month has brought, a blur of heaviness, questions and emotional ups and downs.
March 14 I went to what would end up being my last hot yoga class at my beloved studio before it closed its doors.
March 15, a Sunday, I forced myself to go to the rec center to swim. I started swimming again in January, but I skipped weekends because of crowds and high school swim meets. But I suspected it was my last chance to swim for awhile. Turns out, it was. Hours after my mile swim the city shut down all rec centers.
March 16 was the first day my kids were home from school because of the coronavirus shut down. I’ve been working from home for nearly eight years, so my schedule remained unchanged other than the addition of a bored tween and teen and limited physical outlets. As I finally accepted the need to find alternative ways to work out, I dug out my boyfriend’s decade-old P90X DVDs and completed my first of what would be a gazillion workouts at home.
My migraines grew in frequency and intensity.
My mom guilt spiked as I found myself too tired at the end of the work day to initiate imaginative activities beyond board games and movie nights. I also found myself frustrated with the nagging mom I had become as I constantly questioned the kids about their online homework assignments and begged them to get off their gadgets and go outside.
Anxiety and stress started affecting my sleep. Which affected my migraines.
I started practicing yoga online thanks to the dedicated instructors at my studio and YouTube. Although my love for yoga is based on the home practice I created years ago with online classes, it’s now a struggle to get through a video. I miss my studio and my instructors and my fellow yogis and the inability to check my phone from downward dog.
I read a lot, but quickly ran out of library books that I can’t replace because all libraries are closed. I wonder how long those three library books will sit in my car long past their due dates.
My daily writing has suffered. Coronavirus stress twisted my brain into thinking that everything in the world is on pause, including my creativity, productivity and the general ability to string words together into sentences.
The weather ranged from windy days in the 40s to sunshine and temperatures in the 80s. Some days I went out to run or walk the dog or read a book on my deck, letting the sunshine zap vitamin D into my skin as I think, “Ok, this quarantine isn’t so bad.” And some days, when the temperatures dropped and the rain kept me inside, I worried how the cabin fever was affecting the mental health of everyone trapped in my house.
I made extensive menus to cook, but because of grocery store shortages, I’ve had to wing it with recipes and hope my family would eat whatever showed up on the dinner table.
I signed my daughter up for summer camp, throwing down deposits for a camp I’m doubtful will happen. Days later, I was notified that the summer youth employment program my son applied for through the city, that interview where he shook hands instead of elbow bumped, was canceled. The image of my kids being home all day every day beyond the school year and into the summer became more realistic.
On March 23, our governor closed schools through the remainder of the school year. Which is mid-June. Reality seemed unbelievable.
I went to my favorite city park to view the cherry blossoms. I promised myself I would snap photos from my car if I couldn’t practice proper social distancing, but I was pleasantly surprised to see not a single person walking through the trail of cherry blossom trees. It was a rare moment of normalcy and contentment, and I tried to store up those feelings as the quarantine continued.
After healing from a calf injury, I ran more miles than I have since last year. I have to be careful with my seasonal allergies making me think I have coronavirus, so some days a run is my only time spent outside getting fresh air.
March 28 was the fifth anniversary of my first date with my boyfriend. We usually celebrate with a fancy dinner, but this year we had to improvise. We dressed up, the kids dressed up, we supported a local business by ordering curbside pickup and we reminisced about that first date and life five years ago.
My moods jumped all over the place. One minute I might feel like I’m doing great, handling all of this with positivity and gentle patience. But an hour later I’m physically and mentally exhausted and just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head until this is all over.
On March 30, our governor announced a stay-at-home order through June 10. June 10 seems like a lifetime away.
I’m doing my best to support local businesses by ordering curbside pickup from a variety of restaurants, buying a gift certificate from my stylist and not requesting a freeze on my yoga studio membership. I need these local joints to still be around when this is all over.
Finally, the romantic getaway with my boyfriend to Curaçao that was supposed to happen while the kids were on spring break with their father was officially canceled. I’m supposed to be in Curaçao right now. And to make it worse, we learned firsthand how companies in the travel industry are behaving badly during this crisis. Without refunds, we have to figure out how and when we can get to Curaçao within the next year to utilize our “credits.”
As the coronavirus quarantine continues, I try to live day by day, do the best I can and remind myself this will eventually end. I try to take advantage of days I feel productive and allow myself a pass for days I don’t. I try to temper the running list of disappointments that I know aren’t life-shattering but sting nonetheless. I try to practice gratitude for everything I have, including my family, my health, my home, my job, my pets, and yes, toilet paper.