All of us, regardless of our backgrounds and experiences, thrive off of interactions with others. Whether it’s the waiter at your favorite restaurant, the woman you see on the subway every day, or the best friend you’ve known for years, our minds crave that smile, wave, or conversation. We create bonds with the people in our lives, and (almost) everyday we get to experience them.
Now that we’re in quarantine, the opportunity for these moments has been swept away from us. We no longer get to see new faces on the street everyday, and we no longer get to see familiar faces on our commutes, at school, or at work. Some people aren’t even staying in their homes. Now more than ever, we need to lean on the people in our lives – our families, friends, even teachers. It’s so easy to feel down during this time because it really feels like the world is collapsing around us. It’s nearly impossible to suppress these emotions and fears. When I feel myself go down this hole, I lean on the important people in my life for help. I play a card game with my sister, watch some HGTV with my mom, facetime a friend or walk my dog with my dad. These aren’t the same little moments of my everyday life, but they have a similar effect on me. The people in my life have the skill to uplift me, even in such terrible times.
I know I’ve written a lot about my negative feelings toward corona and quarantine, but some good has come out of it. Our climate is recovering more and more everyday, New Yorkers are coming together as a community every night to applaud the healthcare and essential workers, and we have launched Sweet Readers CONNECT. Before Covid, I had not had a Sweet Readers partner in almost two years. As much as I love being a Young Leader, a large part of me really missed taking part in Sweet Readers programs. I missed getting to make a new friend and learning about their past. I missed the amazing human interaction that the programs gave me every Monday. Now, I have an opportunity to relive my experiences as a Sweet Reader. I meet with Irving every Friday, and we have amazing conversations. We talk about music, poetry, his cats (who are named Sugar and Plum after his granddaughter who he calls Sugarplum), his family, and so much more. These thirty minute calls have such a significant effect on me. I am so overwhelmed with joy after every single one of them, regardless of all the things that are stressing me out that day. It brings me a lot of happiness to know that I am lighting up someone’s day and giving him a form of human interaction, even if its over a screen.
My calls with Irving have truly changed the way I think about quarantine. Before I thought it was this period of time that we as a society just had to live through. I thought that all I had to do was some homework and spend the rest of the day watching TV in bed. Now I’ve learned now that this lockdown is what you can make of it. I have realized that I have to get out of bed and do things I truly care about. Calling Irving every week has given me purpose, and motivated me more than anything else I’ve done in these last eight weeks.