The Joys(?) of Quarantine

by Emlyn Polatty

A week ago, my schedule was packed; wake up at 5:30, get to school by 7:00, spend eight grueling hours on trigonometry and World War II and everything else, then go to rehearsal for two hours. Sing and dance until 4:00 or 4:30, and then, three or four days a week, head to Sekisui Midtown for a five-hour hostess shift. Eat some sushi, head home, finish homework, hopefully be asleep before midnight. Rinse. Repeat. This doesn’t even include time spent at Girl Scouts or practicing cello or writing articles for journalism, but I think you get the point. My life, like many teenagers in this modern world, is a never-ending hustle. Until this week. This week, and for the foreseeable future, I’ve got nothing. No shifts at work, no school, nada. (I do have math homework, but we won’t talk about that). It’s like I was racing down the highway, 100 miles an hour, and now life has slammed on the brakes. Needless to say, I was a bit jolted, but like the rest of us, I’m making the best of it. Here’s a list of things that have brought me joy in this scarily slow time.


Sleeping in: no explanation needed


Cooking: I usually don’t have time to cook for myself, not even to make a quick PB&J, so it has been oddly nice to make myself breakfast and lunch. I’m also forced to get creative so we don’t waste any food. So far I’ve had everything from pepperoni quesadillas to potstickers to chocolate pound cake, so who knows what’s next.


Crafting: All this downtime has really made my inner grandma pop out. I’ve been embroidering, making hats, collaging, you name it. There’s an old wives’ saying that idle hands are the Devil’s playthings, and while this isn’t inherently true, it is nice to be creating something. That being said, I am going to have a lot of hats when this is all over, and I only have one head, so expect a hat next Christmas.


Streaming: God bless Netflix. And Hulu. And all the others. Would any of us remember what humans look like if it wasn’t for shows and movies right now? I’ve been catching up on Spanish drama Elite, teen favorite Victorious, and the 90s occult beauty Buffy the Vampire Slayer to name a few.



Spring: As of last Thursday, it is officially spring! Allergy victims everywhere may be collectively groaning, but the improved weather has helped raise my spirits. After spending months indoors when I didn’t have to, it’s nice to be able to take walks and dance in the sunshine now that we do have to stay in. My younger brothers love to see all the flowers everywhere, and I love the sound of the rain, the warmth of the sun when it comes out. Spring has a little something for everyone.



Pets: My dog might as well be my best friend. She is small, but she packs a whole lot of character. Playing with her always relieves some stress, and cuteness does count for something in her case.



Friends and Family: In this corona crisis, it’s hard to not feel estranged from everyone. After all, we have been advised against seeing other folks. I haven’t seen my dad in about a week, and I might not see him until this is all over. That’s kind of scary. As a self-declared extrovert, I rely on people around me a lot for inspiration, energy, interaction. But what’s been really great is seeing how we still stay connected despite physical distance. I have friends writing me notes and leaving them in my mailbox, friends sending memes to cheer me up, a wonderful church group that has group Zooms so I can talk to someone other than my brothers. Our love and our connections didn’t just stop when we stopped seeing each other; in fact, this shows how strong they actually are. Check in on your friends. Call family members you haven’t seen in awhile, even the annoying ones (yes, we all have them). Stay connected.


So what’s the point of this list? Part of it is to count my blessings. There’s a lot of serious stuff going on; civilians and healthcare workers are dying of a virus, businesses are shutting down, the economy is taking a nosedive, and on top of all that I still have to pass Algebra II. But most of these things are out of my hands. A past teacher once told me that I can only control the six inches around me. That’s not a lot. Theologian Karl Reinhold Niebuhr put it differently with the Serenity prayer.


“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”


Take a deep breath. Release the need for control. And find your little bits of joy– they make a big difference.

Do you have a story or reflection to share about your life in this exceptional time? Email it to Director of Communications Robyn Banks