One year ago today, the COVID-19 pandemic forced my office to close, along with all other non-essential businesses on Long Island. The last time I was in my office was when I went to pack up my desk and take my work home. I remember hearing people around me say that it would only be a couple of weeks and then we would be back. I wasn’t so sure of that, and I burst into tears in front of my co-workers. Of course, by that point, hugs were completely off-limits. So, we said our virtual goodbyes and were on our way.
One year later, I’m still working from home out of my tiny 450-square foot apartment, still wearing my mask, and still mainly avoiding the great outdoors. Sure, things have improved since this time last year—COVID cases are down, there’s a vaccine on the market, and people have become used to the safety precautions, for the most part. But the lingering fear is still there. There will be things I could never imagine doing, even after being vaccinated, like my weekly group kickboxing class or going to a concert.
In those early days of working from home, I found it incredibly isolating. For the most part, I spent 23-hours a day in my apartment and only really got outside for an hour-long walk in my neighborhood. Last spring and summer were so completely different than any of the seasons prior. And as we mark the first anniversary of the first COVID case on Long Island, we are also adjusting to another new normal as things begin to re-open and people start venturing out. Just as it took me a while at the beginning of the pandemic to find my stride, I assume the same will be true as I cautiously emerge from my year-long hibernation.
In some ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already, as it has felt both like the shortest and longest year of my life. I will be emerging from the pandemic with a new sense of what’s important and a greater appreciation for those who have been a part of my ‘quaranteam’ and helped get me through the last year.