22 April 2020
It’s Friday and you are driving around in the car aimlessly. The “love of your life” just broke up with you over the phone, when all you asked for was some company on what would’ve been your dad’s 57th birthday. Today’s going to be hard, and unfortunately, it is going to get a lot harder before it gets better.
I want you to know that this lonely feeling doesn’t last forever. When you lie in the darkness of your basement apartment for the next two weeks, counting the bedroom ceiling tiles, with the lights off and curtains drawn, I want you to remember reading this letter. Let’s call these next two weeks of your life “Quarantine, Phase 1.”
After these two weeks, you will begin to feel strong again. You will rip the curtain rods from the wall, and squint as you bask in the warmth of the sunlight pouring through the windows. Then, you will venture out into the world and dare to write poetry again, and slowly, you will begin to heal. Come the winter, you’ll realize the “love of your life” wasn’t the love of your life after all.
I know you aren’t religious, but I want you to read this verse from the Book of Revelation: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest” (6:2). Your self-imposed quarantine is going to pale in comparison to the white horseman that’s coming. The world is going to change.
By April 22, 2020, you will have been in Phase 2 of quarantine for five weeks now. The state is shut down because of a deadly virus called COVID-19 that quickly became a global pandemic. You teach from your basement, staring into a computer screen. Virtual learning has become part of the “new normal,” and on some days, it feels like a punishment, and others, a bad dream. Not just for you, but for the students too.
During this phase, you’re too frightened to leave the house, except to go for short walks around the block, wearing a face mask that hopefully prevents you from contracting the virus. You download a free exercise app and start working out again, and this saves you from feeling like you are going crazy. This, and shopping for cute face masks online.
Think of what it feels like to be in a store, because you won’t remember in nine months. Go to as many stores as you can, even if you don’t buy anything. In Phase 2, only the supermarket, and stores like Walmart and CVS will remain open, but you’ll be too afraid to go. You’ll be too paranoid, and choose delivery options instead.
Visit your grandparents at least once a week and remember to try to be kind to your mother. Don’t skip any open mic nights or cancel plans with your friends. I did, and I’m regretting it now. Please, don’t take anything or anyone you love for granted.
Expect to call your grandparents, and FaceTime Cheyenne, at least once a day, and expect to have a to-do list for Monday through Friday at least a mile long. This is what keeps you from going crazy. On the weekends, say fuck the to-do list, and do whatever the hell you want. This keeps you from going crazy too. These routines and lack thereof are your saving grace. Oh, and not binge-watching the news, because that makes your head feel like it’s is going to explode.
Even though the world keeps spinning, everyday life has stopped. I know this won’t last forever, and maybe I’m too optimistic, but I have to believe that life get betters. The world will begin to heal, just like you will in the next few months. Amanda, you have to believe that life gets better. We both have to believe in something better.
I hope that in the next few months, you learn to be grateful for all that you have.
Remember, the love of your life is waiting for you on the other side of this pandemic. He’ll be waiting for when you’re ready to leave the basement again.
You in Quarantine, Phase 2