I feel like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray has been replaced by none other than myself, waking up every morning to the same routine. No matter the changes I make to alter the day, I find myself stuck in a continuous time loop.
9 a.m. I roll over in search of my ringing phone. Same phone call, same person. “Good morning, honey, this is your wake up call. I love you.” My dad had to start waking up my siblings and me this way when we wouldn’t venture from our bedrooms until midday. He knows I can set an alarm myself, but he also knows I am very acquainted with my friend, the snooze button. I check my surroundings. Just like I thought, the nightmare that is COVID-19 is reality and I’m living back at home in Dallas, Texas. Mindlessly I scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, even Facebook. The content is all the same: inspirational quotes, prayers for victims of the virus, memes about corona.
After about 10 minutes I get bored and just lay in silence, imagining how simple everything was a month ago. I was in college in Jackson, Mississippi where I worked hard in my classes, actually interested in the content. I was living with my best friends, preparing for fall recruitment in my sorority, and dating my first boyfriend. Our biggest concern was what the cafeteria was serving for dinner and if we had finished our studying so we could go out that weekend. Eventually I snap out of my daydream and leave the comfort of my bed, venturing downstairs to start another day.
9:30 a.m. First mission: coffee. Still in my pajamas I take my cup of joe and head for the kitchen table which has transformed into my study space. My younger brother occupies the dining room table and my sisters usually stay in their rooms. I pull out my daily planner and see what I have for the day. I see the scratched-out dates: spring parties, sorority fundraiser, formal. The reminders of what was supposed to be a full spring semester and keep me motivated in school. Once I got home though, they were only reminders which made me sad. Back to what I was looking for, today’s assignments. One hour long lecture, readings and responses on an online forum, more readings, and a note to put time aside to study for a quiz. Tuesdays and Thursdays make me a little happier because I don’t have to navigate my way through Microsoft Teams or Zoom. While I love talking with my professors and discussing the material live, it isn’t worth the constant battle between my computer and I; the computer usually wins.
12 p.m. I hear the shuffling of feet down the stairs as my fellow quarantine inmates venture for lunch. While my brother and I complete a full day of online school, they have two weeks off and then pass or fail for the remainder of the academic year. I remind myself to practice gratitude, as I am lucky enough to have online education and finish the semester with my earned credits. Yet I can’t help but be jealous of them. They are finishing their sophomore and junior years of high school and it seems as though they are already let out for the summer. One of my sisters complains about the teachers giving her too little work. If only that were the case.
Usually school intrigues me. I get stir crazy after Christmas break and am eager to return and start classes again. Now I count down the days until it’s over. I once took a class in middle school where the teacher taught via a video which we watched from home each night, and then in class completed what would be our homework with her help. I quickly realized this learning style was not for me as I preferred learning the material in person. Little did I know I would be right back in this difficult learning scenario in which I struggle far more than I would if I were back at college. It’s almost like taking a fish out of its pond and placing it in a tank. It can still swim, but it is limited and seeks to be back in the comfort of its personal body of water.
Lunch sounds good. Sounds like a break from school.
2:30 p.m. I see my mom walk in, sweaty from her workout. Another distraction. I close my laptop and go to change into actual clothes. The first week of quarantine my dad didn’t like the idea of us staying in our pajamas all day. By the next week, he had started doing the same.
I put in my contacts only because I can’t stand when my glasses slide down the bridge of my nose from being sweaty. Over Christmas my mom and dad bought a cycling bike to share, one with workout videos to follow on a screen attached to it. I clip into the bike and begin my thirty minute ride. “Keep going, leave everything else from today behind!” the instructor yells. I absorb these words, sprinting and climbing as if my bike is a time machine powered by how strong my cadence and endurance is. I’m Marty McFly and my mission is to travel back to Jackson. Back to three weeks ago. Back to normalcy. I sink into the music and focus on putting my all into the workout as I know this is something I can control in my life.
After, I rinse off in the shower. Never in my life did I think taking a shower would become a fun activity I look forward to, but here we are. It’s something that takes time out of the day, gives me something to do, and it’s a place to think. With the balmy water hitting my back I think of all I have to do. Usually this spikes my anxiety and I have a drive to finish my tasks. But I don’t experience this in quarantine because I know each day is the same routine.
7 p.m. I finish eating dinner. One positive to being home early is mom’s cooking. I forgot how much I missed her red beans and rice. After eating I meander my way to the couch and pull up my last bit of homework on my laptop. I connect my headphones and search for good background music; I almost always listen to music, no matter what I’m doing. Before clicking on my Tchaikovsky playlist, I see the last song I was playing: Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra. I get sad once again, remembering the good times associated with this song: jumping up and down, acting like fools with my best friends on any random night just because we could. No cares in the world, it was perfect.
Back to Tchaikovsky and reading though.
10 p.m. I FaceTime my close friends and ask how their quarantine is going. One is in Mississippi, another in Louisiana, and the last in Michigan. Even though we’re apart, we all are feeling the same way. Bored, a little down, ready for August to be here. We reminisce on the weeks before, leaving for spring break thinking we’d see each other right after when instead we didn’t even get to say goodbye before moving back home. We talk about finding a time to see each other in the summer, but are all hesitant as no one knows when summer will truly arrive.
Next is my boyfriend and the story is the same. He jokes about not realizing he would be dating a girl who lives 8 hours away because when he met me, we only lived 5 minutes apart. A simple walk across campus. Dates have evolved from movie nights to Netflix Party, commentary solely through a chat box beside the screen.
I’m grateful for these people being rocks in my life for the moment, being there to remind me that this too will end.
12 a.m. I retire back to my soothing bed, right where I started the day. Keeping with my routine, I open my phone and begin the nightly scroll through Instagram and Twitter. I know it’s time to get off once I feel that posts regarding COVID-19 are swallowing me whole. I distract myself by entering the world of Netflix, a place of escape. My current destination is Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri where I watch the Byrde family launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. This encompasses my entire attention which is why I enjoy it so much. It gives my mind a break from worrying about the pandemic.
1:30 a.m. My eyes get heavier by the minute and I realize just how late it is. Another day gone by, many more to come. I think about these seemingly endless days and realize how fortunate I am. Although I long for the old ways before this mess of a pandemic, I remind myself: gratitude. As I mentioned earlier, this is something I am still putting into practice. Some days that’s finding something small to appreciate, like a good cup of coffee or a pretty sunset. I recognize how fortunate I am to be with my family, with ample food, and access to medical support if needed. This is not how I wanted to spend the rest of my freshman year, but I am so thankful to be where I am currently.
I put my phone on silent and sink deeply into my sheets, letting them wrap around me as if they’re holding me. Whispering that everything will be alright. I close my eyes and pray like I always do, prayers for health, prosperity, normalcy.
Prayers for the end of Groundhog Day.
9 a.m. I roll over in search of my ringing phone. Here we go again.