The start of the pandemic felt surreal. The unsettling, anxious feeling I had felt multiplied by the unfamiliar setting I found myself in….
Just a week prior to the essential shutdown of the country, I mean exactly a week, I sat in my living room, mocking those I had overheard earlier that day discussing the potential shit storm approaching. My roommates Akshay, Brandon and I had been planning to drive Akshay across the state back home to Pittsburgh later that week. The school was sending us home, a move we thought, at the time, was startling and profoundly unnecessary. Very few cases had been reported, I said. Barely any in Philadelphia, they replied. Through reassuring downplay of the young peculiar virus called COVID-19, we convinced each other not to worry. Our attempt at ignorant bliss, however, would be challenged increasingly as the days rolled on.
The day we left Philadelphia, we were about twice as worried as the day we sat in the living room mocking those worriers. I was starting to think they were more fortune tellers than worriers. Despite our worry, the first day of our trip went well. I enjoyed the long drive, the music, and especially the destination. Pittsburgh proved to be a fantastic city. Smaller, cleaner, more scenic, and certainly more intimate than where we had came from. That night, we attend a get together at a neighbor of Akshay’s. I counted eleven people at the event. Who knew the next day that would be illegal?
We woke up the next morning to the announcement of a global pandemic, which prompted a nationwide shutdown. Sure, Italy and Spain needed it, but did we? And did they have to announce it when im 6 hours away from home?
Needless to say, our plan to stay another night was cut short. We packed our things, said our goodbyes, and wen on our way. The farms and rolling hills that were so beautiful the way up lost their charm. Now, I was about 10 times as nervous as I was that day.
I get a call from my mom, says she can’t get hand sanitizer up our way. She asked if i could stop on the way back. I told her I would try and I did. 6 times. No hand sanitizer from Pittsburgh to Philly it seemed. Maybe those fortune tellers were right.
I was relieved when we got back to Philly, though I’ll admit it had a different vibe than before. I guess I’d have to get used to it. Turns out, as the next year and change rolled on, I’d be in for a whole lot more.