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.