No Such Thing As Normal

Life since the beginning of quarantine

Abington+High+School+sophomore+Maria+Wood+holds+a+%22Mamma+Mia%21%22+script%2C+her+backpack%2C+and+running+spikes+on+March+14%2C+2020+as+representations+of+cancellations+due+to+the+COVID-19+pandemic

Caly Wood, with permission

Abington High School sophomore Maria Wood holds a "Mamma Mia!" script, her backpack, and running spikes on March 14, 2020 as representations of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been quarantined for almost three months now. Since Friday, March 13, life gradually slowed down to a socially-distanced halt for everyone. Many lives have been affected by the coronavirus—it has impacted most people in some way or another. Throughout these last couple of weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to think about and reflect on everything that’s happened as a result of the pandemic.

While many were excited about the first day off, my initial thought was, is this going to go on forever? I knew that our performances of “Mamma Mia!” had already gotten postponed, and my spring track season was a question mark. Every time a quarantine order was extended, or the news talked about a spike in cases, my thoughts got the best of me. All of the bad news was like a wind blowing out the sputtering flame of hope I still had for any other events happening.

With all of my doubts, I reached out to people I trust for their thoughts on school reopening. My friends and I tried to be optimistic, talking about how we’d go back in a few week’s time. I asked some of my teachers too. The response was relatively the same: we may go back, but we have to plan like we’re not going to. Our principal, Dr. Teresa Sullivan, emphasized this point in a letter to AHS students and families on Friday, April 3 saying, “I am incredibly hopeful that we will return to school on May 4th but believe that we need to plan for the possibility that we may not return to school this year.”

We have to social distance now so that one day, we won’t have to anymore.”

— Maria Wood

I think hearing that from my teachers and the principal, the ones who we look up to and trust for information, stung a lot. Every time something was cancelled, I automatically went to the next thing I could possibly hold on to.

School was one of those things. When Governor Charlie Baker announced that all Massachusetts schools would close for the rest of the year, I got a strange feeling. I had partially expected it, but I don’t think the expectation softened the blow as much as I thought.

Nowadays, people are trying to get back to a semi-normal life. When virtual classes began on April 6, I fell into a “normal” routine of sorts. I woke up, ate, and began homework from the comfort of my couch. Whenever I got sick of staring at my computer for too long, I went outside and played basketball or soccer when the weather was nice. It was a good physical and mental break, and I’ve been thankful for any great weather we have had.

The problem with my new routine is that it’s too “routine” in a way. At first, I loved sleeping in and not having anything to do. Then I felt like I was going crazy without my normal activities, and ached for any normalcy. But when I adopted the new school schedule, it became more repetitive than necessary. The days slowly began to blend together. During a normal school day, something different would always happen despite having the same classes every day. In class, the teacher would have one thing planned, and then a student could say something that takes the lesson in a completely different direction. It’s not like that when all of my assignments are either reading, writing, or typing on a computer alone.

The biggest thing that’s been helping me through the pandemic is communication. My fellow staff members and I are publishing here on the Gazette, providing coverage and collaborating even when we’re apart. I’ve had countless video calls with my classes, track and soccer teams, drama club, and friends. We’ve shared how life has been going for us, what we like and don’t like, and especially what we miss. It gave me a sense of togetherness and I thought, “We’re so lucky that we can still talk to each other.”

I have also gotten more time with my family, which is nice because usually I’ll leave at seven in the morning for school and not see my sisters or parents until four thirty or five after all of my clubs and sports. We’ve been going on walks around our neighborhood, and it gives us a chance to just enjoy each other’s company and not worry about anything else.

I miss life before March 13. However, I know that restrictions are in place to keep us safe. The state of Massachusetts is slowly reopening businesses in phases. We have to social distance now so that one day, we won’t have to anymore. I like to think that that day may be this summer, and that eventually we’ll be able to return to Abington High School for classes in the fall.

It’s been a while since life was normal, but these days there’s no such thing as normal.

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