For a virus that might get 2 sentences in a history book 200 years from now, it sure has changed the course of my year. 2020 was always supposed to be a big year for me. Senior year: many lasts, parties, events, graduation, prom. In a matter of a few hours, those were no longer certainties.
It’s not like I was unfamiliar with the virus, it was something I was aware of for the past few months, but it was something distant. It was something happening somewhere else in the world and it’s looming threat felt akin to the threat of cholera or rabies. Possible, but unlikely. Life carried on as normal as Wuhan and Italy slowly started to shut down. I did homework, chatted with friends, went to a conference. Everything was fine and normal until it wasn’t.
I came back from that conference to hear murmurs of the coronavirus reaching Michigan. It instilled a fake panic in my classmates, more of a joke than anything else. I would hear things like ‘We’re all gonna die bro’ or ‘Corona’s bout to get us’. There was humor to all of it. That humor began to disappear as the day went on. Suddenly colleges began to switch to remote classrooms, events got canceled and teachers whispered when they spoke in classrooms. There was a sense of uncertainty in the air. I grew uneasy myself after the MUN conference I had that weekend got canceled. All conversations seemed to be about the coronavirus at this point. It was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
I went to the bookstore after school that day, just like I did a few times a week. There weren’t many people there, and I got a feeling that I might not be able to go back for a while. I wandered around the store touching the books and tables, trying my best to commit them to memory. It didn’t help that we were reading ‘Station Eleven’ in English class. A book about how society crumbled due to a mysterious disease. I haven’t been back to that store since that day.
When I went home that Wednesday, I could hardly focus on work. Perhaps it had something to do with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. How was I supposed to focus on Self-actualization when I didn’t have the Security of knowing what was going to happen the next day. Everything was up in the air and I didn’t like it. That was on Wednesday, that same night we got an email saying school would be closed that Friday to discuss online learning methods. That’s when I knew that this wouldn’t end quickly.
The next day, the school reeked of impending doom. Teachers started their classes talking about the virus and ended them with a goodbye. The assistant principal even came on the loudspeaker and advised students to take anything they might need home. It felt like the begging of the end. After school, the art room was raided for supplies and lockers were all emptied. I even went to the library to check out the book I’d been eyeing for the last few weeks.
The next morning I found that school would be online for the next three weeks. Most kids would be happy, ecstatic even, but for me, this was the worst thing that could happen. As a senior, it’s not like I had much time with my friends to begin with, now that time was cut short by this microscopic virus. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry.
That same day my mother and I went to the grocery store to get supplies and while there I felt like I was dreaming. It was pure chaos, people were running everywhere and making multiple trips. Extra employees were hired to make the lines go faster. The wheels of the shopping carts squeaked because they couldn’t handle the weight of what was in them. The mass panic added to the apocalyptic feel more than anything else. It’s not like we were immune. I had to talk my mom out of making many purchases, but ultimately we added to the problem. We bought what we thought we needed and stocked up.
Now, I’m sitting here at home hoping that this entire thing will pass and I will be able to get back to real life as soon as possible. Panic has been replaced with boredom and I want to get back into the grind. No more virus, no more panic, and no more quarantine. I’m ready to wake up from this nightmare.