Traveling amidst a pandemic

 New York State declared a state of emergency on March 12, shutting down Broadway and numerous museums and tourist sites. COCO ROMANO GIORDANO/FOGHORN

Haley Keizur is a sophomore media studies major.

The past few weeks have been the craziest of my life, as I am sure they have been for everyone else in the world. I have been on eight planes, traveled across the country, and sat through a 14-hour car ride. My whole world has been flipped upside down and thrown across the room.

Just three weeks ago, I was flying home to Seattle, thinking about how excited I was to see my friends and enjoy spring break. The coronavirus had just barely hit the U.S., but the situation still hadn’t affected me. I thought that would be the last time I’d be home for a few months.

Just two weeks ago, I was on a plane to New York City to attend a college journalism conference. I debated not going, but was assured the conference was still happening and everything would be fine. Honestly, I was just excited that I had a row to myself on the plane and that I would finally be seeing two of my favorite Broadway shows live. However, 24 hours into the trip, everything got shut down. I cried in Times Square because I couldn’t see “Dear Evan Hansen.” At the time, that was still the biggest of my worries.

New York City slowly emptied out, which was like nothing I had ever seen before. The Broadway marquees turned off, museums closed their doors, and fewer people roamed the streets. Most of the plans we had were no longer executable. That same day, our conference got cut short. At the end of the trip, we found out classes were put online for the rest of the semester and that I had to move out of my dorm during the next few days and go home.

Just a week ago, I was still in my dorm room. I was still a resident advisor. I was still in San Francisco. I never expected to pack up all my stuff two months early. I never expected to not get to say goodbye to my residents, my friends, and my classmates. Zoom meetings and phone calls just aren’t the same. I had planned on flying home in May but with the airport chaos, my parents had to drive down and take me home. It was on their way to San Francisco that the shelter-in-place order for seven Bay Area counties was announced. For a moment, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to put my stuff in storage, or even leave the city.

I am now writing this from the comfort of my childhood bedroom (which I already completely re-arranged on day three of quarantine). I honestly haven’t had enough time to fully process the recent events and comprehend how they will impact my future. I am stuck between being excited to be at home and distraught that I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone in San Francisco and that all my plans to read at the beach, travel with friends, and enjoy my classes are long gone. 

It’s only been a week and I am already going stir-crazy. Turns out, I am definitely an extrovert. I long for the days when I can go to my favorite restaurants, visit family members and friends, and go to concerts and public gatherings. All of my friends are back in our hometown for the first time in a while, yet I can’t see any of them. Of course, I know how important social distancing is, and I will continue to practice it, but it’s making me lose my mind a bit. My heart longs to travel, but I can’t bear to see the vacant airports, the lonely streets, and locked doors. 

I feel greatly for everyone affected in some way by the virus, from canceled trips to graduations to concerts, to losing jobs and homes and access to education, to the loss of friends or family. It’s extraordinary how widespread this pandemic is, and how it is touching every person, no matter where you are. In many ways, I feel so lucky that I have a warm home with a loving and healthy family. But if you’re anything like me, you are already counting down the days until you can leave your house again.

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