by the ChiArts Double Space
Although we’re separated during this time of quarantine, there’s still so much we have in common. We’re all worried about what will come next. We’re grateful for each other. And each and every one of us has been affected by the Coronavirus in deeply personal ways.
Here, Double Space writers detail some of the challenges and strengths that have been laid bare by this unprecedented event.
At the very beginning of the quarantine, a family in my area went door to door and slipped notes in people’s mailboxes. The notes offered help to those who needed anything, from bringing in groceries to doing laundry. They said they wanted to help families in any way they could. My neighborhood isn’t super close-knit, not everyone knows one another, but seeing a family offer to help other families, whether they knew them or not was moving.
I’ve seen this same kindness in other smaller ways. People smiling at each other on the street, younger people letting older people go before them at the store (my mom actually did this), seeing people socialize at a distance with their neighbors or family just to check in and catch up. It’s wonderful to see people being there for one another, regardless of necessity; just showing someone you care and are present for them has become extremely important.
A problem that has personally affected me is that one of my moms has been unable to work. Before the pandemic she was an Uber driver, which was helping our family be financially stable; it is hard for our family of five to survive on just one paycheck. Since Uber rides aren’t in demand anymore, instead she does Instacart, which doesn’t pay much and is more just scrap money. I can’t help but think about how much privilege others have that they can just order food as many times as they want or get groceries delivered to their house. My mom says it’s pricey, which is why we don’t do it.
My family in Iowa has been struggling even more. Both my dad and my grandmother work at Tyson chicken, which was recently closed down due to health issues. It will be hard for them to make enough money to live day-to-day, especially for my dad since both he and his fiancé worked there.
I also feel worried about my great grandparents. They are 90 years old and sick. They stay home all day and have nothing to do and nobody to visit them for fear of giving them Coronavirus. It’s hard to help them, but when they need things different family members try to help them out and bring them groceries.
At school, I’ve noticed that the class of 2020 is really struggling with figuring out what to do about prom, exams, and graduation. We were already worried about our futures, but now we worry more about it. Another problem is if you don’t have WiFi or sources to access materials for their classes, it’s almost impossible to learn. It’s difficult adjusting to this situation without much guidance since everyone is trying to figure it out as they go along.
While the situation is happening there have been many people coming together. I’ve noticed more of my classmates doing calls to check in on one another, and trying to comfort each other.
A problem that I have personally is going through the college process alone. I had already decided where to go to school and it’s time now to go through registration and pick out classes and fill out many forms. It sounds simple and easy but it’s starting to get complicated because I don’t know what is best for me with taking classes and scheduling them; the Coronavirus has made everything that’s going to happen in the future feel a lot more tenuous. Usually I would have someone at school helping, but it’s difficult because we aren’t in school, where normally I could get guidance face-to-face. Because I am a first generation attending college, everything is still new for my family and I feel like we are all scared of making a mistake in the whole process.
As soon as quarantine kicked off, my grandfather was laid off of work for the foreseeable future. He works as a waiter at one of Chicago’s ritzy downtown hotels, and is one of the thousands of working people trying to figure out what exactly to do now. Thankfully, my grandfather is a citizen and receives Social Security checks like every elderly member of American society. Beyond the income for him and my grandmother, I worry about them. Did I call them recently enough? Is my grandfather keeping in touch with his friends and his brother, an entire ocean and sea away? Should I bake something for them and leave it on the doorstep? When was the last time my aunt brought them groceries? Does my grandmother have enough food, enough to keep her sugar level where it needs to be? (She’s diabetic, and likes to keep things to herself when she’s suffering.) Constantly now, these people who raised me are on my mind as some of the most vulnerable people in the face of this pandemic. As someone who’s cusping adulthood, it’s scary, plain and simple.
My dad lost his job due to the pandemic. Ever since they let him go he’s been doing nothing but collecting scrap metal from alleys. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been collecting metal since forever, but now he’s acting like that can pay actual bills, which it can’t. On a good day, my dad comes back with like $250 for a week’s worth of driving around alleys picking up old TVs.
Personally, I’m fine with being inside all day, I’m like a cat or a seal. I eat, sleep, move to a different spot, and sleep some more. I like being left alone and not having to commit to anything, but I know some people are going crazy, and I do feel bad for them. The pandemic has given me a chance to think about my life and what I want to change in the world. I’ve been trying to think about ways of implementing change — even if I have to do it alone, since I have little trust in the capability of government officials. This virus has shown me who I can and can’t trust, and who people really are.
I’m so amazed by my mom and what she’s been doing for our family. My mom made a Facebook post a few weeks ago about getting supplies and making runs if any of our family needed things that they couldn’t find. And she did it! She and I went to more than five stores one day to find turkey meat for my sister and hard-to-find cleaning products. She truly has been a light through all of this for me and others.