The Time the World Stayed Home

Photo from my trip home September 2019.

I never thought I would experience a life in which hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are dying, we are mandated to stay at home for our good, and our environment transforms into a VR-like world!

This past summer, I went on a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. It brought up emotions I kept suppressed for years and was heartbreaking in ways that I cannot describe. I left the tour thinking alright, that was the worst. We will continue to rebuild our structures and strengthen our battered souls. Things can only go up. But a mere three months later, after that tour, something even more horrific came along… the coronavirus.

Two terms quickly immersed themselves in our daily vocabulary — SARS-CoV-2, the virus, and COVID-19, the disease. Depending on where you live in the world, CoV-2 is effecting you at different levels. In the U.S., my beloved NYC (New York is my home state) is pummeled, while my equally revered West Virginia is plugging along steady under the radar.

Under physical distancing restrictions, the new normal is gathering via Zoom or similar communication formats. It’s great living during a time when technology can keep us connected audio and visually, and many jobs can continue through telecommuting. I cannot imagine this pandemic scenario without the aid of technology.

The premise of Gal on the Go is to inspire good mental and physical health, so I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the massive surge in creativity and kindness. Also, overdue respect for occupations like healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store and pharmaceutical clerks, cleaners, and more. They are what and who that gives me hope in this grave situation.

At the end of March, I heard that someone in my apartment building had COVID-19. I knew that it spreads at a rapid rate, and having to take my dog Bella out to potty and walk five or more times a day put her and me at high risk every day, even under Stay at Home circumstances. The constant trips up and down the building stairwell or elevator, dousing myself in rubbing alcohol, changing and washing clothes, afraid to cuddle with my dog was stressing me out.

Both our jobs switched to teleworking, so my boyfriend and I got out of Dodge and headed with Bella to a cabin we have visited for years in West Virginia. We made the decision fast and packed up equally quickly. We trust the owners of the property who, over time, became like an uncle and aunt to us. Immediately upon arrival at the cabin, I felt a sense of peace. A handful of people in a country area is a typical sight, but in the suburbs or city, that same view is unsettling. There is no mailing address for the cabin, so any packages we order are sent to “Uncle Dave and Aunt Karen’s” home. Uncle Dave comes by to deliver our supplies, leaves them on the porch, knocks on the door, and proclaims, “Santa is here!” He’s not a jokester, so his delivery method is very endearing.

I miss physical contact with my friends a great deal. Especially as an Italian, because I am a big hugger! It’s funny; I hear many people who are self-proclaimed introverts say this way of living is not much different for them. However, I lean more on the extrovert side, and this living to me is tormenting. A friend posted on FB that when we all get through this, he will never RSVP “no” to anything he is invited. I don’t think I can say never, BUT this pandemic makes you reassess a lot of your decisions, past, and future.

I love being able to check in on friends through social media to see that they are alright. That is a privilege. If I lose any friends, I hope that it’s because you unfriended me. I want to have all of my current friends when we make it through the pandemic and figure out our new normal of living.

I look forward to seeing you again in person and meeting people who have become new friends online during this distancing time. Stay well.

I❤️NY and all of my friends around the world!

Dan Oshier Productions used a drone to capture beautiful footage of my hometown of Buffalo, NY, under lockdown. The people are the heart of the city, and I hope that one day Dan’s company reshoots the area with the people out and about.