This pandemic has turned everyone’s lives upside down in the blink of an eye. I vividly remember the moment that everything started to change. I was in the middle of rehearsals for an Off-Broadway production in Manhattan, where rehearsals are NEVER cancelled. I was walking to my locker and checked my phone to find an email with the subject line saying “Rehearsals cancelled this weekend”. I was in shock. A few hours later, everyone found out that the school district in the town next to ours shut down for two weeks. All of our teachers told us not to be alarmed, but one by one schools were shutting down. My school district did not close until the government made it mandatory to be closed. Everything felt really strange, and no one knew what was happening.
Before everything shut down in March, I was extremely busy. I was taking multiple college-level classes, I was in three musicals, was on a sports team, and I was taking dance classes weekly. I barely had time to do my homework at night, so I had to find time in between classes or on the train to do as much as I could. I remember being extremely overwhelmed with things to do every single day, but also loving being busy all of the time. But once COVID-19 started getting bad, everything I was involved in started getting cancelled one by one. First, my school show was cancelled, followed by the sports season, then my show in Manhattan, and then my dance studio closed. Everything was changing so fast and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I went leaving for school at 7 AM and not getting home until 10 PM everyday to not having anything to do. It was a drastic change in such a short span of time. I was not only sad about everything being cancelled, but I was scared. I spent everyday logging on to Zoom for my classes, only to attend class run by my teachers who were also scared, and not properly equipped to teach. Everything was very strange and no one had answers.
In the summer, things started to look better. Slowly but surely, cases started going down and things started opening back up. With everything starting to slowly go back to normal, I was very nervous. I was nervous that people would start going out more and act like the pandemic wasn’t even a thing. And unfortunately, this is exactly what happened. Everyone was out of school and no one could travel anywhere, so parties were a daily occurrence. I couldn’t tell whether I should fell happy about things going back to normal, or be nervous as I watch all of my friends go to parties every single day. I tried to keep myself busy with new hobbies and virtual theatre internships I was hired for, but it wasn’t the same. I saw all of my friends going out and having fun, and in a way it made me feel jealous. If they could go out and have fun, then why can’t I? But that moment of jealousy was very short, followed by anger towards people for not caring about others enough to just stay home. As the summer ended, a part of me was excited for school to start. I’m never excited for school to start, but I just wanted people to have a reason to not be out every day.
I thought school starting back up would mean less parties, but I could not have been more wrong. A lot of college students in my town decided to stay home, which meant that they hung out every day. High schoolers were at school full-time, but still partied on the weekends. My school district at home reassured nervous parents, telling them that they made changes to how the school day would flow in order to take safety precautions. But my younger sister is at school and she says that no one practices social distancing, and everyone acts like the pandemic isn’t a thing. I see on social media that kids are all wearing their masks below their noses and students are saying that even some teachers don’t wear masks. Since school started, cases have just gone up. Most of the students are healthy and do not have any preexisting health conditions, so they feel as if they are immune to the virus. I just wish that people were more careful so things could ACTUALLY go back to normal.
As my sister went back to high school, I was preparing to start college. I was nervous to start, especially because I was living on campus and wasn’t sure how safe it would be. As we all know, life on campus did not last very long at all, and students were sent home a week into the semester. Being sent home was upsetting to all students, but it was extremely difficult for me. Not only was I worried about my in-person theatre classes, but I was worried about where I was going to live. I do not have a quiet place to do my school work at home, which is something that is important to me since I already have a hard time focusing. Students with special circumstances were able to stay on campus, but my mother lost her job due to the pandemic and did not want to pay for room and board when she had the option of getting a refund. I ended up traveling back and forth between my sister’s house in Binghamton and my house in Long Island almost weekly. I went up whenever I could, but couldn’t stay up throughout the entire semester since she lives with 3 other people. Traveling back and forth made it really difficult to get my school work done for all of my classes since I did not have a sense of consistency.
It is evident that COVID-19 has made life difficult for everyone, and I really hope that things start to get better soon. But in the meantime, stay home and wear a mask!!