I’ve lived in the same house in Jamesville, New York my whole life. Though my hometown is a mere fifty minute drive from Colgate, I felt that I had a separate, independent college experience, which sadly culminated in a semester cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. It was jarring moving back into my house, into my old bedroom, which is nothing like the quaint, cozy apartment on College Street that I lived in at school. I made jokes to my friends about the inevitable regression into my high school self that would result from my mom de-pitting my avocados, doing my laundry, and asking me who I was FaceTiming. Beneath these jokes, I was genuinely worried about what it would be like losing my college independence that I cherished so much as soon as I was supposed to be going into the real world.

This pandemic is much bigger than my last semester being cut short, and I want to stress that I know I am incredibly privileged to be able to stay home with my family, to be healthy, and to have access to food during this time. The fallout from coronavirus highlights the importance of social location given that people of color, minimum wage workers, and other vulnerable communities are being hit the hardest. I read a tweet from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez this morning that explains this much better than I could. She writes, “COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black and Brown communities. Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

That being said, as a white woman in her suburban home in upstate New York, it feels obtuse to mourn Colgate, to mourn my independence, to mourn the time lost with my friends. It even feels obtuse to mourn my uncertain future due to the dismal job market. I might just be very good at suppressing my feelings, which wouldn’t be surprising, but I have felt better during quarantine than I have in the past several months. I have loved being able to slow down and enjoy my coffee in the mornings instead of gulping it down in a rush before class. I have reread my favorite André Aciman books, cooked every night with my family, and spent hours going through old photo albums, my cheeks sore from laughter. I have also had time to (virtually) get together with groups of friends who haven’t all been together in months. 

I will always wish I had those last months of college, and my plans for what comes next are murkier than ever. At the same time, I am so grateful that I am able to quarantine with my family in a safe environment, and I truly cannot ask for more than that. If Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez says that inequality is a comorbidity, wouldn’t that mean that privilege contributes to health? I am using this time to take care of myself in a way I never would have been able to at Colgate. For once I am exercising regularly, taking time to cook, sleeping normal hours, and basically doing all the things I would have to put on the back burner while immersed in college life. Our country, which is known for excessive individualism and workaholism, is for once being asked to slow down and live simply. Though even tougher times are sure to come, I think we can learn a lot from this.

5 Replies to “Back Home and Happy (?!) in Suburbia

  1. Hi Kate! Despite the fact that I am living alone, I too am experiencing a lack of independence coming back from Colgate. My mom randomly walks into my house at any given moment! As much as I pretend like it bugs me, deep down I am grateful for her company and the surprise meals that she brings me.
    I really appreciated the quote that you included from congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. I had not seen that tweet prior to reading your post and I often have trouble explaining concepts of inequality to my family members, whom although I love dearly, deviate from my believes. Thanks for posting!

  2. Yes, as people are sad about leaving their colleges and having their time cut short, you are right. Many other people are facing far more difficult problems that can affect their well-being and their quality of life. The health disparities are growing in communities of color and within the vulnerable populations, such as the poor and the elderly. There should be more attention to those communities or these numbers of deaths and cases will continue to climb all over the country. Thank you for bringing this topic to light Kate!!

  3. Kate you are not alone. I think the coronavirus is incredibly hard for our entire world to currently swallow considering we are being put on pause from our daily lifestyles. Especially the American lifestyle in which we have instilled that we all have to constantly be on the go, working, and striving to reach certain goals. However to your point, as the days of quarantine continue on I have noticed the people around me not as much resenting it anymore but seeing the value that could come out of this. The value of being able to slow down to breathe and welcome in all the beautiful things in our life that we put aside when taking part in our work obsessed society.

  4. Hi Kate! This is a thought-provoking post that encourages readers to reflect on their social location and recognize the dimensions of privilege that they obtain! Furthermore, it asks readers to not disregard the fact that communities of color are facing far more barriers to access essential resources and proper health care compared to their white counterparts. COVID-19 exacerbated the inequities present in our society, and we must acknowledge that.

    I appreciate that though you may have faced some challenges at home, such as not obtaining independence and privacy to the extent you did on campus, you have taken the time to appreciate the little things. It is great to hear that you are now following a normal sleeping schedule and that you get to drink your morning coffee peacefully and in no rush.

    Great work! I wish you nothing but the best and hope that you are safe and well!

  5. Kate – I absolutely loved this and related to it very much. I love that you took the time to reflect on your own privilege but I want you to know that your feelings are so valid as well! I know it must be super tough to be so uncertain about what is to come. I am so happy that you and your family are safe and healthy.

    I totally relate to being able to slow down and enjoy simpler things in life back at home. I am glad you are able to compartmentalize the harder feelings of loss and in turn appreciate your own social location and how things could be worse. I agree wholeheartedly and hope we can continue in whatever sense possible to create some sort of aid for those who are struggling in a much deeper sense.

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