Personal Take on the Pandemic

Jared Arenas, Quality Control & Head Editor

On Friday March 13th 2020 life seemed adequate. It was the last day before the weekend, and with Spring Break being on the horizon with only one week before the yearly intermission from school, the energy in the air was filled with anticipation while also occupying it with a restrained and subtle ambience. Our English class was prepping for a Socratic Seminar earlier in the day, and I was dreading speaking in front of the class whilst being graded on every action I took. Mr. Stanek, our journalism teacher at the time, was making sure that everyone on the newspaper team got access to each other’s numbers, in the hypothetical scenario that we would go into a country-wide lockdown due to a certain disease we’ve been hearing about in the news. Previous months beforehand, I’ve been hearing about the Coronavirus on the news from time to time if a certain channel was on the TV at the right time, but I would mainly put it in the back of my mind and not think much of how it could impact the people around me. After all, it was a virus that started all the way on the other side of the world. Why would it affect me here and now?


In an instant, my life and the lives of everyone around me changed drastically. School was shut down and citizens across the nation were told to stay inside in order to keep safe. It seemed as if everywhere I went, I would constantly hear the word “cancelled” again and again. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo which I was looking forward to for the past 4 years was put aside  for the foreseeable future. A trip to the Czech Republic that I was planning a year in advance was completely out of the question. Even the simple “everyday” programs that would air on TV everyday like Jeopardy were made unconventional, blamed on the absence of live audiences, and replaced with blank seats in the crowds. Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe the first week in quarantine. I wouldn’t dare leave the house unless I was checking to see if the chickens laid eggs, or change their food. My entire family acted abnormally too, treating the situation along the lines of a zombie apocalypse, and kept a container in front of the house with food, telling us to only open it in an extreme case of emergency. Although COVID is meant to be taken seriously, I find it funny looking back at how overly precocious everyone seemed at the time.


Life during lockdown was different to say the least. It’s strange to say that I’m nostalgic for something from only a year and a half ago, but I still get sentimental hearing the opening jingle from Animal Crossing New Horizons, or remembering how off the walls 7 Seed’s second season went. After the first week or so I completely threw away the idea of a consistent sleep schedule and decided to stay up binging Netflix or browsing social media. While this occurrence was a way to be alone without anyone else around, and a way to catch up on shows or empty my backlog of games, I was still longing for that sense of normalcy that had been taken away.


As for one positive thing that has happened during quarantine, I managed to discover some of my favorite films. One that comes to mind is Eighth Grade, a movie dealing with a middle schooler’s final days before the end of the academic year trying to gain acceptance from her peers, while also navigating the usual stresses of a teenager. Another is A Silent Voice, an animated film about a former bully trying to make amends with a girl he tormented years ago, learning about self- acceptance along the way. During this time I have also managed to pick up skateboarding, which is a hobby I’ve been trying to get into since elementary school. I still have a massive way to go before I can call myself an expert, and I still rely heavily on online tutorials, but I’ve gotten a steady handle of things since starting.


In a way, the sudden crisis and shift in tone in the world at the time was a wakeup call. It was a way for me and my cohorts to realize that in such a short amount of time the most important things in your life were able to be taken away from you. Since I wasn’t necessarily able to go out and meet people in the outside world, I had to resort to joining Instagram group messages filled with strangers- some my age and some not even from this country- if I wanted someone new to talk to. I’ve met people online that have lost family members and loved ones due to COVID or had to get laid off from their job. I’m one of the advantageous few to say that both my parents and members of my non-immediate surrounding family managed to keep their jobs through this event. The time spent in isolation also made me realize that we all need human interaction as a part of everyday life. As people, we all need it in order to thrive and live in this world. This school year so far has been different so far between the need to still wear masks, restrictions on after-school events, and even the strangely common thefts in the school bathrooms. But despite all that, I’m happy to be back in physical and in-person schooling to see people face to face.