Rediscovering myself during the COVID-19 pandemic
By Danae Reid
June 29, 2019 was the day that I finally moved out of my parents’ house. I was a year post-undergrad and Brooklyn, New York was my destination. The days leading up to my move were nerve racking to say the least, but once my apartment was fully set up and I was able to soak in my absolute independence, I knew that I’d never look back.
Over the past year, countless people have asked me many times whether or not I missed my suburban life enough to return, and the answer was always no. I knew that New York wasn’t my forever home, but I also knew that I had no intentions on ever returning to Pennsylvania for more than a brief visit. However, that “no” quickly turned into a temporary “yes” once New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States.
I’ve officially been back in Pennsylvania for slightly over a month, and as of right now, I have no idea when I’ll be heading back to the beautiful yet boxy apartment that I’ve grown to love beyond limits. Initially, I was hesitant to return to my parents’ home — I enjoy the space I curated for myself. We had returned from a week-long family vacation, and I had just gotten groceries delivered. Commuting home can be fairly stressful, and for other superficial reasons alike, but once I weighed the pros and cons, the best decision was made clear. I was on the train the next morning.
I’m a half-full kind of person, so I knew that I’d be able to make the best out of my new temporary norm, I just wasn’t sure how. But, I quickly realized that there were numerous things I could do at home that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to do had I still been in Brooklyn.
Being home for so long has made feel like I’m getting the opportunity to briefly relive my childhood, but with the perks of being an adult. Thankfully, my house is big enough that we’re only on top of each other when we chose to be. My brother, who is an undergraduate student at Temple University, also decided to return home, which has been quite a joy for me and my parents as well. The four of us haven’t been under the same roof for such a lengthy time since my 2016 college summer break and because he plays football for Temple, his hectic schedule leaves little time for any of us to see him. We’ve grown accustomed to the brief FaceTime calls and the funny texts here and there, but it’s nothing like having the real thing.
We’ve been afforded movie nights, Instagram live battles between legends, walks with our dog Cody, face to face conversations, and I’ve had the pleasure of helping him with some of his virtual classes.
Thus far, the entire months of March and April have been “cancelled. ” My family has had a lot of birthdays since this all began, including my own. As a 24-year-old, my idea of celebrating my birthday did not look like the homemade cake my mom made me or spending it with my parents, brother, and friends and family via Zoom, but it was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
One of the greatest pleasures I’ve taken out of this experience is the realization of how easy it was for my family and I to revert back to our old roles. My parents quickly jumped right back into taking care of my brother and I as if we never left, i.e. making dinner, fixing things, etc. And although I do help my mother clean and cook much more than I did when I was living here, I’m still enjoying being taken care of.
The countless hours of free time I have has also allowed me to tap even deeper into my creative side. I’ve taken on some new hobbies and have learned some new skills that have proven to be quite lucrative. Knitting had been a great space filler, and I also started a business creating bookmarks out of the flowers and leaves that I’ve found on my walks.
Lastly, the “stay-at-home” mandate has enabled me to take the time to reflect on who I am, who I was, who I want to be, what I want, and more. I feel different since this whole thing began, and I know that post-pandemic me is a much different person.
Though my 2020 looks much different than I’d expected it to, this time has afforded me some unforgettable memories that I will cherish for as long as I live. I’m filled with gratitude at the fact that I had a healthy and safe home to return to, and I’m thankful for all that I’ve gained during this time. I still have no intentions on moving back to Pennsylvania permanently, but I will continue to enjoy this time I have while I can.
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