c/o Kat Struhar

c/o Kat Struhar

Right now, I’m sitting in the same spot I’ve been in since Tuesday night, with brief interludes to get food, get water, shower, etc. I’m sitting on my bed, back propped up by pillows that haven’t been neatly arranged in days, staring at the same four walls that have monopolized my periphery for what feels like forever. For the second time in two years, COVID-19 has gotten to me, and I sit trapped in quarantine waiting for a small gray line to disappear.

So, as I sit here on Sunday, alone with my mind after binge-watching all of “American Horror Story: Coven” and “Apocalypse,” the first season of “Community,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” “The Death of Stalin,” and too many video essays to count, a brilliant idea pops into my head. Why keep all my slowly deteriorating thoughts to myself when I could publish them in The Argus for everyone to read? And so here we are.

I will say, this quarantine hasn’t been as isolating as my last one. The last time I caught COVID-19 was in April 2021, back when the University still sent people to the Inn at Middletown to keep us distant from the campus community. I was in room 307 at the Inn, which had a perfect view of the Mondo parking lot and not much else. 

In addition, the University’s COVID-19 policy at the time was such that those at the Inn couldn’t leave their rooms at any time for any reason, so the only fresh air I could get was from my window that opened halfway and the only exercise I got was from pacing the 20 steps from one end of the room to another. Of course, it was also the first warm weekend of the spring, so the weather taunted me with what I couldn’t have.

This time around, although I’m stuck in my bedroom in my apartment, I can still leave to get fresh air (I recommend wandering campus at night listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s album Guts, it’s very therapeutic), I can have conversations with my housemates through the door and pass them—cautiously, of course—in the hall. I feel so much less isolated than I did that April.

And yet, at times, I’ve somehow felt even more alone. Maybe there was something comforting about not being right in the middle of the action for my isolation, as compared to this time around when I am acutely aware of all the activity in and around my household. Sure, I didn’t see anything at all other than the inside of room 307 and the front door of Mondo for more than a week, but that meant I didn’t see the people lined up at the food truck or going to concerts. I didn’t hear laughter from the kitchen or the sounds of people cooking together. I only heard the Inn’s air conditioner turn on and off, only saw the same wallpaper and curtains and bedding every day. And that was it.

I don’t know if I truly prefer that type of quarantine—the total solitary confinement of it all drove me a certain kind of insane—but I don’t know if I’d necessarily call my current quarantine better. There’s something a little heartbreaking about feeling the world move around you when you’re stuck where you are; about getting texts to hang out and having to say no, knowing you’re a short walk away in theory but a million miles in practice; about seeing parties and fairs and auditions and meetings all take place right where you are and feeling like you could so easily go to them. But you can’t. You’re not a monster, you don’t want to give this stupid virus to anyone else. So you sit in your room and watch TV.

I know, I know. Woe is me, I had pretty mild case of COVID-19, and now I have FOMO, boohoo. Tragedy, thy name is Sam, et cetera, et cetera. Things for me are pretty manageable as far as COVID-19 isolation goes, and I’m obviously not the first person to say that it feels shitty to not be able to go to things. I guess my point is more that I expected this time to feel different from the last. I expected to feel much less alone than when I was locked on the third floor of the Inn, and the fact that I didn’t has surprised me.

But the feeling won’t last. I know I’ll be around people again very soon. And while I have to be in here, my friends have been doing everything to help me get better, emotionally and physically. One of my housemates went grocery shopping for me and suggested a Zoom Jackbox night last night so that I could join, another bought me my favorite ice cream from Weshop, another brings me COVID-19 tests from Davison Health Center whenever he goes, another covered my shifts at work despite already being ridiculously overscheduled. 

Many of these people also helped me last time I was in isolation, but something about it felt so much more needed this time; last time it was a treat that kept me perky through the week, this time it was an irreplaceable part of my mental wellness. The people I’m lucky enough to have in my life are the ones that keep me going. They’re probably the only reason I haven’t started counting tiles on the floor or scratching at the walls, to be honest. 

As I go into another year—albeit off to a rocky start—I’m not going to forget what the people around me have done to make my isolation feel less lonely, and I don’t think you should either, dear reader. I know it’s super cheesy to say it, but we really are a community. We can help each other up, even if it’s by doing something as simple as picking up a test because it’s on your way, having a socially distanced outdoor visit with someone over lunch, or even stopping to buy pretzel chips and Reese’s for your sick friend.

Take care of each other. Take care of yourself. Don’t get COVID-19, it sucks. But if you do, or if you fall into some other shitty situation where you feel stuck while everyone around you moves on, let people help you. Let your community support you. Even when you’re isolated, you don’t have to be alone.

Just don’t give anyone else COVID-19.

 

Sam Hilton is a member of the class of 2025 and can be reached at shilton@wesleyan.edu

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