Living Through History: Reflections 3 Years After the COVID-19 Lockdown

{A rose under afternoon light – just one of many photos I took during lockdown to remember the pretty.}

Sunday March 19th marked the third anniversary of the mandatory lockdown and stay-at-home orders that was issued in California. At the time, there was a lot of fear, confusion, and anxiety surrounding what this meant and what COVID-19 was. Three years later, a vaccine + many boosters, and a re-opened world, and I’m still not sure we truly understand what happened, and yet in less than two month (May 11, 2023), COVID-19 will no longer be considered a public health emergency.

When I really began thinking about COVID-19, I was living in sunny San Diego, CA, not even slightly concerned about this virus that had ravaged Asia, and was now attacking Europe. It was February 2020. I felt bad for Italy, a country I had visited just a year earlier, and for people who were traveling and being forced to leave. I thought of this virus as being similar to the common cold or a flu, and my germaphobic self was more concerned about the process of getting sick than actually being sick {the thought of the droplets still makes me feel disgusted to this day}. When work closed our doors on Friday March 13, 2020 {Happy Friday the 13th}, I genuinely believed we’d be back after spring break. I could not imagine that I wouldn’t step back on campus for another 2.5 years {in September 2022}. I got in a car – not a plane – and moved back home, leaving my gorgeous {and overpriced} downtown apartment alone for three months. And when I did go back that June, it was to move all my things into storage, and say goodbye to a home that I had loved so dearly.

For the first few days when I was home, before lockdown officially started, I thought I was being overly cautious by wearing a mask and gloves when I went to the grocery store or the gym. Fun Fact: Wearing rubber gloves while on the treadmill not only makes you look a bit eccentric, but your hands get disgustingly sweaty within five minutes. I told myself it was good as I was allowing my sweaty hands to help me detox, even though I knew that wasn’t truly the case.

When April came, I began realizing we may never get out of this world. Even our new normal would feel a bit different from our 2019 normal had been. Our homes became our everything: our home, our restaurants, our movie theater, our office, our gym, and everything else we could possibly need or want. It made me grateful to have a home, a home that could fit all the things I needed, and to not be alone. Even as someone who enjoys my alone time, I could tell that quarantine life would have been significantly harder for me had it just been B {my Chihuahua rescue} and me. By my birthday in May, I realized that I was enjoying life at home. Instead of traveling someplace new, I stayed home, ate all the food I loved, did a dance workout to wake up, watched a movie in the middle of the day, had a mani/ pedi {that I did while watching said movie}, played boardgames, and didn’t check my email even once. I loved that last tradition so much, I’ve continued it ever since and always wake up to an overflowing inbox the morning after.

In June, I drove back to San Diego to leave my beloved apartment. After four years, I finally had found the perfect place for me – floor-to-ceiling windows and all – and I’d only stayed there for a few months. On the drive there and back, I ate the snacks I’d already packed at home: peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and raisins + individualized bags of popcorn. Not stopping to get fries, coffee/ tea/ soda/ a smoothie, or even to use the bathroom felt strange. We lived in a reality where seeing other people was dangerous, and using hand sanitizer and wearing masks were essential.

It feels strange to admit that while I know how hard 2020 was for so many people, it was one of my favorite years. I liked that happy hour could happen in my bedroom {and paired with a cup of tea instead of a boozy drink}. I loved how I cooked every meal, meaning I looked and felt my best {and that was with eating pizza and cake quite often – just healthier, gluten-free versions of both}. I adored the time I was able to spend with B, throwing his ball to him while writing or letting him run outside while in a meeting. And I enjoyed the creativity with my workouts – swapping from running outside to dancing in the bedroom and doing live mat Pilates classes every chance I got. I know 2020 was extremely hard, for so many reasons, but for me, 2020 was a strange year that I loved. Did I miss traveling? Sure. But considering I had been on four international trips in 2019 {not including the plethora of flights within the US}, I truly enjoyed not getting on a plane from February 2, 2020 until September 16, 2021. Did I miss going into stores? Of course. But I saved so much money by staying home, not eating out, not paying for a gym, not having to fill my car with gas, etc., that I ended up shopping online quite a bit, all in the name of my re-entry to the old world {since our new normal didn’t really require new shoes for a Zoom meeting}.

On Sunday, when we hit the three year anniversary, I took some time to reflect on the pandemic and what 2020 taught us. Personally, it taught me how important my home is as our homes became our everything at the start of this decade. I also learned how much I loved cooking at home {and 2020 left me with the best sourdough for pizza that I still make today}. It showed us all how connected we are as the human race. It didn’t matter how rich or poor we were, what country we lived in, what we did in our day-to-day life, COVID-19 did not discriminate; it went after all of us. It reminded me of how easily everything can change in an instant. One day, I’m going to brunch and sitting on a plane. The next, I can’t even leave the house without a mask. But, most importantly, it taught me to look for the beauty in every day. Even in one of the most trying times of our lives, there was beauty to be found: in a gorgeous bloom, a delicious meal, a stunning sunset, and so much more. Three years later, I’m grateful for the lessons COVID-19 and 2020 taught us, and the germaphobe in me is even more grateful to have somehow avoid the virus altogether.

I’d love to know, what did COVID-19 and 2020 teach you?

x Paris

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