What day is it? Day 12 of Instagram challenges. Eleven toilet paper shortages. Ten Netflix shows binging. Nine pizzas baking. Eight fights a stirring. Seven Tik Tok dances. Six home workouts. Fiiiiive Zoom call conferences. Four grandmas calling. Three homemade masks. Two plastic gloves. And a house full of endless ennui.
I'm embarrassed to say that I was ruthlessly determined to spend my spring break in Fort Lauderdale despite the rising situation of a global pandemic. Like many, my last day of school and work was on Friday, March 13. It was weird because, at the time, we weren't sure if it was goodbye, the only permanent solution we had was an extra week of extended spring break. So it was just an awkward, "See you in two weeks" from my professors. Everyone was delusional, including myself, thinking school would resume after break. But who can blame us? We were misfed information. Everyone was joking about it, not taking any of the news seriously. Our ego-fueled minds and social media accounts made it a daring challenge to see who would carry on with their spring break plans. Nothing can come between a college student and their trip to Florida for a week of drinking. That is until we realized, COVID-19 is not a joke.
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My friends and I were relieved to find out the beaches of Fort Lauderdale have been shut down. This was finally enough to cancel our plans. After reading the backlash kids got from rebelling and carrying on with their vacation, I knew we had made the right decision. I know I struggle with FOMO (fear of missing out) but never enough to where I'm putting people's lives at risk.
One week into our "spring break," I get news that there will be no going back to campus, everything is online now. Time to take a look at my losses — friends, potential boyfriends, parties, Frisbee, professors, and probably the one that hurts the most — my summer internship. I say this with all sincerity as much as I love my friends and my Frisbee team, I was actually really looking forward to commuting into New York City every weekday this summer to work for a PR company. I was so ready to ditch my normal routine of being a camp counselor and lifeguarding, even if that meant fetching coffees for publicists. But with this growing virus, who knows if NYC will be up and running by the summer.
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So now I'm at home with my family just like many people. My house is small, and by that I mean three bedrooms, one full bath, and there's six of us. That means I get the couch. There's at minimum three to four miscellaneous fights breaking out per day. Dishes and laundry are racking up quicker than ever. I thought with more hands on deck, things would be cleaner … but that ceases to be the case. I'm quickly realizing how dependent my siblings are on my parents to pick up after them. I try telling them this will only cause trouble between you and your roommates in college and that nobody wants to be that housemate. Everyday, I wake up to the sound of multiple Zoom conferences echoing around the house. My sister's fourth-grade Spanish class mixed with my dad's business conferences. It's only the beginning and I'm realizing this lifestyle is something I'm going to have to get used to.
The hardest part is staying motivated. It seems as though the world has stopped, so why shouldn't I? I'm sad to say that there have been days where I've woken up at 1 p.m. and watched "Tiger King" until 6 a.m. I have had philosophy homework and papers due but just no interest or drive when there's no classroom or library to go to. All I can say is how ironic it is that when I am at my busiest with school work and social activities, I have stellar time management and somehow get it all done. But now that I seem to have all the time in the world, I am the most lazy and unproductive I've been in a while.
Despite the stay-at-home slump I've put myself in, things are actually getting better. The best part of the lockdown has been my family. I am so lucky and so grateful to have such a great, big, never-boring family to help me through this dull time. My 14-year-old sister read the boring philosophy essay that I couldn't get through, not because I'm illiterate but because I hate reading philosophers who like to use big words like "axiological." But for some reason my sister does. She translated it and dumbed it down to what I like to call "the blonde version" so I can better understand, and thanks to her I was back on top of my school work.
My 9-year-old sister has become the family chef. She brings me Korean whipped coffee (a recipe we found on TikTok), pancakes, and any crazy concoction she decides to make for dinner that night. We have competitive scrabble nights, lots of baking and cooking, and of course, home workouts led by my older brother who we now call Coach Coach ("New Girl" reference). When the weather's nice or we start to feel a little too claustrophobic in the house, we luckily have enough people to go outside and play 3-on-3 Frisbee games. As much as we may act as though we hate it, I think my siblings and I are actually enjoying this time together.
During a Zoom call with my friends from college, many complained about how much they miss their social life. That's when I realized how lucky I am. Being stuck at home with my family isn't so bad after all. Sure at times we can all start to get a little stir crazy, but it's not awful. It's awful for those suffering from the actual problem and losing loved ones to COVID-19. I've learned that now is the time to be grateful for what we have and make the most out of this historic time we're going through. This may be the most time we'll ever have to be with our families. I look forward to making better use of this time by finishing books I've started, picking up an instrument (ukulele), learning a new language (German?), and of course reaching out to my grandparents. I may have lost my spring semester of college, but I'd give up those two months any day if it means helping to protect those who are most vulnerable.
Saoirse Maguire, BA Media Studies, is a sophomore at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.