Hitting the Pause Button: Reconnection through Social Distancing
What does it take the bring the world to a halt? It's scary that a global pandemic has to hit us in order for everyone to stop going through the cycle of work/school, eat, sleep and pause long enough to snap out of our routines. It's scary that it has to come to this for us to stop fighting each other and realize we're all just humans on this planet with the same goal. It's scary to realize that when it comes down to it, we are all just trying to survive and protect the people we love.
As a college student going into my senior year, I've been so buried in schoolwork, extracurriculars, internships and applications for medical school that I've barely had time to think about anything else. Winter, spring and summer break meant shadowing, internships, working a part-time job or studying for the MCAT. It wasn't until I was forced to pack up my dorm room in two days and rush home on the first flight back to Bellevue that I realized - I was going through a historical moment. There was no plan for this situation - no obligation or responsibility or opportunity I had to chase. All I had to do was stay home, stay safe, and pass my classes. As I was welcomed home by my family, for the first time since I left for college, I was not treated like a guest. With my younger sister graduating from high school, we realized this was going to be the longest period of time we were going to get to spend together with all four members of the family together at home, maybe for the rest of our lives. It felt like in the midst of this distressing situation, we were blessed with a snippet of time to do the impossible: travel back in time and go back to how things used to be when we were all living together. So we decided to make the most of it.
Every day, our family goes on a walk in our neighborhood. We get to enjoy the fresh air, the delicate cherry blossoms that line our street, and the beautiful sunset. We bake copious amounts of chocolate-chip banana muffins, do our own barbecue for dinner, and end our nights watching TV together in my parents' bedroom, all squished together on their queen size bed.
Since everyone is stuck at home because of lockdown, we've also gotten to spend more time with other loved ones. My grandma showed us how to make our own face masks through Zoom, and my grandparents were able to celebrate with my sister as she found out about her college decisions. We had our first extended family online game night which was the definition of pure chaos. Everyone was yelling in English and different dialects of Chinese and no one knew how to use Zoom or how to play the game, but we all ended the call having laughed until our sides hurt. I have been able to have weekly video calls with college and childhood friends that go for hours and hours. This is also something I cherish deeply because since my friends are dispersed all over the world and usually busy with their own stressful lives, we never had the chance to just enjoy each others' presence and talk, which is something we have gotten to do these last couple weeks. Ironically, lockdown and social distancing has allowed me to reconnect with the people I care about.
While we can't change the fact that we are living through a global pandemic, we can create memories that we will later look back on with great appreciation. I hope that we can remember this time as a time of rest, community, and faith.