Exactly two months ago, life could not have been more normal. I woke up at 6 every morning to catch the bus to work, then I walked to class, then I went home and watched Brooklyn 99 while I ate, then I went to sleep until my alarm woke me up at 6 the next morning.
My point is, life was predictable. Thanks to my obsessive personality, my calendar was beautifully blocked out and color-coded so I never missed an assignment or meeting, and I was never surprised by anything.
Until I was.
Thanks to COVID-19, in a matter of weeks, the comfortable schedule I had perfected was completely tossed out the window and replaced with an endless stream of canceled plans and uncertain deadlines.
It’s difficult to articulate what we’re going through. Simply saying “everything changed” feels like the understatement of the decade.
If someone had told me at the beginning of the semester that I would be finishing it online, I would never have believed them.
I keep imagining if someone had pulled me aside and said: “Don’t buy all those textbooks, the classes and tests will be canceled because of a global pandemic.” It would have seemed so obscure and impossible, how would I even react to that?
But dwelling on how naive I was three months ago won’t change the reality: I’m in quarantine.
And our lives right now sound like they’re a work of fiction. The way I — and I’m sure everyone — am handling this crisis is interesting, to say the least.
I can’t go to the gym, so I’m aggressively playing “Just Dance” in my bedroom. I can’t go to a groomer, so my arms are littered with scratches as I try to teach myself how to trim my cat’s nails.
I can’t go buy fresh food, so I’ve eaten frozen burritos and ramen for almost every meal. Last week I almost cried after I ran out of Red Hot because let’s be honest — frozen burritos are only edible if smothered in hot sauce, and it’s not like I can go buy more.
Remember when it used to be easy to buy fabric? In high school, I would go to the fabric store about once a week and effortlessly peruse the aisles looking for the perfect style.
Last week, I tried ordering just enough fabric to make masks for my sister and I. After three hours — and I hate to admit, quite a few tears — I found 3 yards of a hideous pink cotton and checked out.
A few days later, the fabric went out of stock and my order was canceled. Apparently I and every other person in America were shoving through digital crowds and fighting over fabric scraps.
Social interactions have become a poorly choreographed dance. I went to a gas station recently and the person next to me offered me a wet wipe. He grabbed it with glove-clad hands and walked until he was about six feet away, then set it down and backed up so I could walk forward and grab it — all while we were six feet away from each other.
If I had seen that interaction a few months ago, I would have been creeped out by the “odd” behavior. But it’s normal now.
The longer this pandemic goes, the more apocalyptic it feels to me.
I’ve been playing a video game set in America right before the apocalypse. One night in the game, a radio made an announcement about restricted domestic air travel.
My sister and I both snatched up our phones and checked them — genuinely mistaking our video game for a real-life emergency broadcast. Needless to say, that was uncomfortable. I never wanted to feel like that game was mirroring reality.
We’ve all become very familiar with the word “unprecedented” throughout the last month. To the point where I’ve begun to wonder — can’t there be a better word for the time we’re living through right now?
But I don’t think there is. We’ve never seen society crash to a halt like this. It’s been an ugly and uncomfortable wake-up call.
I was so comfortable with my predictable schedule, I never thought anything would disrupt that. I was wrong.
We were all wrong. Life is precious and not a guarantee. As boring and frustrating as quarantine is, it’s far better than the alternative.
Essential employees are risking their lives. Hospitals are being overrun. People are dying.
As much as people — myself included — want to think about this through the context of memes and jokes, it’s not a laughing matter. We need to unify and be a little uncomfortable for the betterment of society.
I get it, it’s hard. The amount of times I’ve wanted to walk across the street to Starbucks is alarming, but that latte isn’t going to fix my problems. And being out is going to make things worse.
In recent days, I have been so disappointed in my fellow citizens, especially with Operation Gridlock. I can’t begin to describe how selfish Operation Gridlock is. People are dying and somehow it still isn’t serious enough for people to make sacrifices for each other.
I understand the desire to go back to work or go to the grocery store, but this issue is bigger than myself. If we want to overcome it, we need to be uncomfortable for the greater good and help each other out.
It’s simple: be kind to each other, help one another, and donate if you can. And more than anything, be patient and take quarantine seriously.
Lauryn Ritchie is a journalism and media communications major at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
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