Life in New York City just a few weeks ago looked totally different for me, I’d been planning to take a trip, I had co-workers that I could see in person, and I had a physical office to work from.
The news is calling New York City, (my hometown) the “epicenter of the outbreak.” People are being advised to self-quarantine if they visited for at least 14 days. Living in New York knowing there are 15,000+ people who have tested positive for the coronavirus has been pretty scary.
On Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 my day began pretty normally, I work for an advertising company so I went to work, as usual, that day. There was an announcement made that everyone had to leave early, I looked out the window from the 30th floor and noticed something I had never seen before…the city was empty.
Looking uptown at the Empire State Building, there were fewer vehicles, pedestrians, and all movement had come to a halt in the city that never sleeps.
My co-worker, Aria S., decided to leave New York and go back home to California. She was worried about her physical and mental well being. Quarantine living and social distancing in New York City was too unfamiliar for her. Aria said she would rather be quarantined in her family home than her New York City apartment.
“I would want to be in a more comfortable space. Living in New York City with my job in client services, I am barely home. Plus, if I was in my childhood home, I wouldn’t feel so anxious. I didn’t go out as often as I did when I lived at home.” She said.
Over the course of the next few days, the pandemic began to creep under my skin, I became anxious whenever I saw someone wearing a medical mask and gloves. As the number of positive cases rapidly grew in my city so did my anxiety. I was living in fear because the future seemed so uncertain.
The impact the virus was having became even clearer when I went to walk my dog in the park. It was an early crisp cool morning, I saw a father and son practicing hockey shots together before I could take in their presence police officers told everyone to go home. They were enforcing social distancing, there were only eight people in the area but for safety reasons, we had to leave.
While social distancing has not been ideal it did force me to practice self-care. I currently work a full-time job and I teach at a non-profit. While being home I’ve picked up certain hobbies again, such as drawing and calligraphy (bullet journaling for April never looked so colorful!). I’ve also been playing catch up with my Nintendo Switch games that I purchased months ago…I finally have time to enjoy them.
One of the most difficult parts of the pandemic has been adjusting to working from home. I’m thankful to have colleagues who understand that we’re all going through this together. We have reimagined what it means to be co-workers in the virtual space. We have a rule: every two hours we check in with each other. This check-in can be job-related or simply to see how the person is doing mentally. My manager emphasized the importance of communication and bouncing off ideas before we went into isolation.
On top of all the changes that we’ve been experiencing I was forced to cancel my trip to Arizona. I was ready to travel, I was looking forward to visiting the Grand Canyon where I could hike and enjoy the sun. I was feeling disappointed about the cancellation and then my friend said, “It’s not canceled, it’s postponed for now.” Those words changed my outlook on everything.