Three weeks ago I went to the west coast. People wore masks in the airport and wiped down what seemed like every inch of the airplane. My mind had not quite gotten a hold of the situation. While packing for this trip I remember asking my mom if she thought the coronavirus would ever come to Minnesota. She told me “Of course it would” and I doubted her, mistaking her logic for fear, which is stupid on my part because (1) my mom is almost always right and (2) she isn’t fearful she is just cautious and really good at preparing for the worst. It just seemed really far away and I guess I am used to Minnesota being a static, midwestern, “we’re too far away from any coast to make the news” type of state.
But the virus did come here. It is here. I got laid off from my job at DQ because it’s here. I can’t go out and see my grandparents because it’s here. My dad had to close his work site because it is here. I am writing this right now because it is here.
Even though my mom was on strike, she will be getting paid for online teaching. I am very thankful that both my father and mother are healthy. Not everyone has the stable situation that I do to be able to get through this, but I do not take it for granted. I am thankful.
My dad works at a community support program called Vail Place which supports people, who have the lived experience of mental illness to work toward their recovery through a safe community (the one created for them at Vail) in hopes of reentering the workforce as well as establishing independence. Because the success of this community at Vail Place is so deeply rooted in face to face interaction and the construction of social connection, quarantine has hit pretty hard. For everyone, maintaining mental wellbeing is challenged by social distancing, but for communities that already face the stigma and isolation associated with mental illness the challenge of social distancing can be even more impactful.
We got the news on a Sunday that our schools would close on the following Tuesday. I was sitting at Perkins with a group of seniors and one junior. We all just talked about it. It might have sunken in for them but it did not sink in for me. I was still in that “static Minnesota” mentality and I did not want to get out of it.
It wasn’t until Tuesday morning, when I woke up on my own time that it really sunk in. I read, hung out with my sister, who I really missed seeing during the day, worked on some homework, facetimed some friends, and was unproductive. I feel like I’m retired. The “stay at home and stay six feet away’ policy is a blessing and a curse. Now I have all the time I say I never had during the school year to do whatever I want. But I have to do it alone. I am an introvert so I guess I won the lottery this time, but also my friends are my therapists so some of the crazy stuff that has been happening lately has been stuck in my brain. Some of the things that have been stuck in my brain are: What will I do with all this time? Where am I going to get money to pay for all the things I will need next year? What is happening with graduation? What is happening to my senior year?