March 13 is a day that will forever go down in infamy.
OK, maybe I am being a bit dramatic. But the girl who left school on that strange Friday thought she was embarking on what teenagers had dubbed “coronacation.” The previous day state officials announced their decision to close schools because of the pandemic, so I said a premature good-bye to my classmates and teachers.
A break from school sounded like a great idea before we understood the magnitude of the novel coronavirus. Now, we are isolated, afraid and horrifically bored.
So, quarantine was not exactly what I expected. The first week was fine. I filled my days with mindless marathons of Netflix sitcoms. I convinced myself that I was not being lazy, I was just taking a well-deserved break. Of course, that was when I thought we were only out of school for two weeks.
But by the second week, I could barely get out of bed. Isolation left me with too much time in my own thoughts. I wanted to go to school, skip lunch with my friends, have movie nights filled with high-calorie snacks and drive down the highway without a care in the world.
My small problems seemed gigantic.
It was not until I crawled out of that slump that I began to take control of my life. The first step was to analyze the facts: 1) I probably would not see my friends for a while. 2) Maybe watching Netflix all day was not the best idea. 3) I needed a better hobby, and fast.
“A break from school sounded like a great idea before we understood the magnitude of the novel coronavirus.”
Whereas some people try one hobby at a time, I decided to do them all at once. It was an unconventional approach, but these are unconventional times. I started with baking. Chocolate chip cookies, macarons and a three-tiered carrot cake! I tried every recipe I could find on Pinterest until my parents complained there were too many desserts in the house.
Then I stumbled upon an old spool of yarn and knitting needles. Yes, I, a 17-year-old girl, started knitting a headband—and quite successfully. My ritual was to turn on Disney’s “Tangled” and knit a little bit every day.
There also were about 100 family walks and FaceTime calls to friends. My life hack for surviving quarantine is staying busy, and it has worked.
Throughout all of this, I have checked the news more than ever. The need to know is all-consuming. I watch all of Governor Larry Hogan’s press conferences and read numerous articles as the number of cases in Maryland increased. People are getting really sick, hospitals are overflowing, and we are running out of supplies. Our concerns as a nation shifted from a toilet paper shortage to a very real pandemic.
The last time I went to the grocery store, the aisles were barren. I suppose that was when it hit me, that I or someone in my family could get sick from a simple Target run. Everything became a stressor – the news, my family, even going on a walk.
Online school did not begin until April 13. I complete more than four hours of assignments every day, study for the SAT and try not to lose my mind in the process. Yes, I miss getting coffee at 3 p.m. with my friends and studying for midterms at the library. But there are worse things in the world right now than boredom. I know that the choices we all make have an impact, and I make these small sacrifices to keep the people I love safe.
Right now I am looking forward to warm, summer afternoons spent at my friend’s pool, hosting barbeques in my backyard and spending a week at the beach in North Carolina. I can only hope that every day I spend at home is another day of summer I get to enjoy with friends and family. Maybe things will never completely go back to normal, but the thought of truly enjoying the summer before my senior year drives me to stay home. Until then, maybe I will get better at knitting.
Adora Brown is an intern at Mid-Atlantic Media and a junior in the Howard County Public School System. This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Baltimore’s Child Magazine.