This (COVID) American Life

Written By Max Brown

When I was 10 or 11, doing schoolwork from bed always sounded awesome. No kid really wants to go to school. As a kid I took those things for granted. Like picking up my friends on my way to first period or going to baseball practice. Everything about school seemed boring and mundane. All the seniors I talked to wished me good riddance having to endure another two semesters when they could start a new chapter in their lives. But now, as I write this article from my bed, what I thought was going to be my dream, I realize how much life has changed over the past month-and-a-half, not for the better. 

When Americans first heard of coronavirus, we brushed it off. We all thought it would blow over like the SARS or Ebola viruses. It was far enough away that it couldn’t hurt us. It was silly to even think that we would have to change our way of life because of a mishandled crisis half-way around the world. Besides, nothing could touch the American capitalist machine. We needed to get out there. Outside our homes was where business took place. People had to work in order to sustain an untouchable economy. Besides, we had more important issues domestically than internationally. 

For me, baseball season was starting up. I had worked hard over fall and winter and landed a spot on the varsity roster come spring. Our team looked good, we didn’t lack pitching like the years before, and it was finally all starting to come together when we got a call that all spring sports would be postponed until further notice. It was like a kick in the teeth. Just when we thought we actually had a chance, it was taken away from us in the blink of an eye. 

As the country continued to shut down, it became more and more apparent that things were going to get worse before they got better. Restaurants, movie theatres and even parks started to close, and more people donned masks and gloves on their way to do activities that before the crisis were entirely normal. A cough or a sneeze had to be hidden in public. If someone showed the slightest sign of illness, it was cause for panic. Suddenly, showing symptoms to a cold was no longer an action that would warrant get-well cards and uplifting messages from friends and coworkers; it made people angry. No one wanted to have coronavirus, but it was unclear as to what it actually looked like. No one we knew was confirmed to actually have the virus. We didn’t have any frame of reference, all we knew was that it was out there somewhere, lurking in the shadows, waiting to infect someone who was within six feet. 

However, life went on, and so did our social lives. Cars were too compact and everyone in them was within six feet of each other, so my friends opted to skateboard. We were limited on where we could go on four wheels and a piece of wood, but nonetheless, we enjoyed it. Friends that lived in my neighborhood would all ride to our middle school and either skate around or play knockout in the evening light. There was normal talk about girls, school and what conversations we had had over Houseparty with our friends that didn’t live in Park Hill. But it always circled back to the virus. As a friend group, we never strayed far from each other on the weekends. We were a close-knit group of young men that convened in backyards or basements before quarantine. Now that we couldn’t all be in the same place together without fear of drawing attention, we felt isolated. We had never had to worry about not seeing each other.

But even as activities with my friends went from limited to virtually having no contact, my family and I continued our daily lives. Everyone in my family set up spaces where we could work undisturbed. We all annexed ourselves until lunch, where we would reconvene, and then go back to work thirty or so minutes later. We went on nightly walks to satisfy our boredom and worked on puzzles in our free time. My father tended to his garden, starting his plants from seed and watching them grow slowly, gently caring for each one individually. 

As I write this article now, I can’t imagine things going back to the way they were before the virus. Coronavirus has affected me at one of the worst times I could possibly imagine. My junior year, one that was supposed to be highlighted with varsity sports, working hard to make grades, and obtaining the status as an upperclassman was quickly stripped away from me. My story definitely isn’t as heart-breaking as a highschool senior, but it still saddens me to think of some of the memories I will have missed out on. This will be one of my generation’s greatest tests. Instead of having a generational war, we have a virus that is prohibiting our most mundane and daily functions, and making us realize how much we need each other. I’m not sure when life will return to “normal,” or if coronavirus will change the way we live our lives forever. Either way, we need to hold on tight to the things coronavirus can’t take from us.