So I did a silly thing right when the self-quarantine began to get serious — I moved out of my apartment in Long Beach to a home in Westminster with my girlfriend and her family. I feel guilty about it now, as we were driving back and forth picking up boxes and making trips to Home Depot, but now that our room is settled, we can finally hunker down for the long haul.
This neighborhood is nice, it’s so much quieter than the PCH. The streets are wide enough that the kids can play with ample room in between them. I actually have a desk now, which was impossible in my old shared master room that held four peoples' worth of stuff. I feel like I’ve finally given up that college student life, just a few months earlier than expected.
To get things straight, I was planning to move out in May anyway, and the only reason I was going to stay in my apartment was to be closer to school. But since campus closed, my apartment became a ghost town; three of my roommates went home, one basically moved in with her boyfriend and I guess I did the same thing with my girlfriend. It sucks that we still have to pay rent until the end of our lease, but I count my blessings that I am healthy, employed and happy in my new home because I am going to be spending a lot of time here.
It’s Thursday night and the guy you’ve had a crush on for months finally asks you out to dinner. It’s nice. The Thai restaurant is empty, but all you notice is him sitting across from you, smiling ear to ear. All there is to talk about is the news, but you don’t want to think about it just yet. It’s not like the world is ending tomorrow.
He asks you what you’re up to this weekend. Your flight home got cancelled but you settled with driving tomorrow morning instead. It’s just Sacramento. It’ll only be for a couple days.
You two finish the night at his place, watch a movie to keep your mind off of things. It’s comfortable. You’ve been here before. You guys have been friends for a while. But as great as the movie is, you can tell it’s slowly ending. And when it ends you’ll have to leave. And when you leave you’ll have to pack. And when you pack you’ll have to think about the possibility that you might actually get stuck at home if the quarantine continues.
So you look at the guy sitting on the couch next to you, the one you’ve had a crush on for months, and you ask yourself if you’re going to see him again. You tell him you love him. He says he’ll see you next week. It’s not like the world is ending tomorrow.
Fair Oaks, CA
Perhaps nobody else has quite caught this yet, but leave it up to me to find the irony in absolutely everything. But everything I hate about my hometown of Los Angeles — the sprawling metropolitan that has cities all synonymous with the name “LA” sprinkled from the ocean in the west to the foothills up north; the god awful public transportation — is actually a contributing factor of what’s made us less fucked than New York and San Francisco. Boom, there it is — a positive.
I get it. It’s easy to accept this situation as dire. Yet, I can’t bring myself to match the world’s anxieties. I stay away from social media especially, with faux remedies and horribly inaccurate information circulating everywhere, triggering waves of panic to wash onto the shores of peoples’ stories. Truly, what do I miss? Playing pool with Alex. I miss the gym, the desert, travelling, my friends.
I’m lucky, though. I have both of my jobs still, and work remotely from both. I’m saving ungodly amounts of money by not driving 40 miles everyday. I get to see Alex, who has moved back from San Francisco, more than just once a month. I have time to finally invest in personal projects, which is really just a lot of writing, cooking, exercising and repainting my room with Alex.
I learned early on that society’s hysteria won’t make the coronavirus disappear. So stop sharing bullshit on social media, calm down and do something positive with your life.
Pico Rivera, CA
You have a lot of time when you are staying at home the whole day. More than enough time to think. As an international student, you just keep asking yourself the same question over and over again: should I go home? Is it even possible to go home right now? Flights and prices are changing by the minute. Every morning you wake up, your phone shows you tons of new measures the government has taken, in your home country as well as in California. I currently spend a lot of my free time reading all the news in Europe and the U.S. The truth is that they don’t really differ, except maybe the numbers of infected people. In California, the virus is not as far spread as in Europe, which means that the state is about one week behind with its measures. That makes the future here kind of predictable, but it still does not answer the question: is it better to be bored in Europe or in California? The weather is better here, but that is not really affecting me when I’m watching Netflix anyway. The beer is better in Europe but I won’t be able to drink it if all the bars and restaurants are closed. Every international student is dealing with this question right now. At least listing the pros and cons prevents you from getting bored.
I hate being stuck at home. Actually, I hate being stuck in the place I pay to sleep at. Things could be worse, you know: I could be stuck in a place that I couldn’t pay to sleep in. But still, I can’t take this. Virus be damned, we’re going out.
No, come on. Don’t look at me like I have a deathwish, I don’t mean going out out. I mean going around the block, getting some steps in and trying to not live like the world is fucking ending. Okay?
Oh, it’s raining out. Well, shit. I guess you would say that’s for the best. Still though, a quick walk to 7-Eleven on PCH won’t kill anyone. Come on, walk with me and you’ll see that a cold is the last thing to worry about catching the death of me. But please, stand six feet away from me. Don’t want to tempt fate to put us six feet under.
Bing-bong goes to the door chime. It’s a bit crowded, but there’s no reason to fear. The masked and gloved family behind the register know we’re here. You pick something up and go to put it back, but I slap your hand away from the rack. Sorry, but the camera got you getting your germs on those gummy worms — I explain. The cashier stares at me and I’m not sure if he’s pondering our bravery or tom-foolery for breaking quarantine. But it doesn’t matter because across PCH and back to the apartment we go.
Long Beach, CA
I never thought I’d ever be quarantined, but here we are. My family of four are all stuck in the house for who knows how long. My routine of school and work every day suddenly switched to going into different rooms of the house. As days pass by, I still wake up early thanks to my inner alarm clock, but my motivation to do anything other than staying in bed is steadily decreasing.
Luckily, I’ve found the bright side in all of this, like spending more time with my family, but at times it does become too much. My busy schedule this semester kept me from staying at home for too long, now I’m here all the time. I ended up re-downloading Minecraft and started playing Animal Crossing. It feels great to relax and do something that doesn’t have to do with school. I’ve noticed that I’m spending more time in the living room now. Sadly, I haven’t even seen my boyfriend in almost two weeks, but we have FaceTime and Zoom to help us through that. We’re using it more often than we ever have. But I am bonding more with my brothers through video games, just like in my high school days. Thanks to COVID-19, it’s no longer an empty and quiet house.
The risk of going out, even if this self-quarantine is just a recommendation, is just not worth it. My mom has made it her duty to keep all her children, including our dog, indoors for the time being. I’m not sure when this will end, but at least for now I’ll be at home if you need me. COVID-19 be gone, please.