Time has been so strange during this era of human history and this past year was no exception. It feels both like ages ago and just yesterday that I was reflecting on a year of working from home, that I was seeing my coworkers for the last time, that I was nursing my husband back to health, that I was welcoming my brother to New York. Time doesn’t feel quite precise enough for reflecting on the past 2 years.
After a long year and change, and a weary ordeal trying to secure my appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine in New York City, and finally getting my doses…
I’m finally fully vaccinated against COVID-19* *many variants of it, at least
To be honest, I thought I wouldn’t be eligible to even enter the rat race for vaccine appointments until about now, but I like to think that New York’s Governor Cuomo couldn’t take California’s Governor Newsom announcing earlier 30+ and 16+ eligibility dates, which was why several Mondays ago he announced that 30+ could get vaccinated the following day and 16+ the week after. I had to wait until the 16+ date, but it was still a month ahead of when I thought I’d be able to even think about getting vaccinated.
And because I was mentally unprepared to even have a vaccine appointment, I quickly became really overwhelmed trying to plan for a post-vaccine life. Could I see my family? Could I meet friends in the city? Could I attend a wedding a month later?? After 13 months of not having to plan more than a few days in advance and calculating almost zero risk with other humans, I felt myself shutting down a bit once my appointments were booked.
But here we are, maxed on the vax. So here’s what my personal experience was like.
I’m so lucky, and privileged, to have even been able to work from home for the past 365 days. I understand that I am only able to do so because other people are not, that I am only able to have groceries and dinners and office supplies delivered to me during a year I rarely left my building thanks to the work of people who are not paid enough. I hope that you will join me in supporting the people and businesses that have sustained us throughout this year and who brought us joy in the time before… and the soon to come time after.
A year ago today, I set myself up to work from my dining room table after taking my laptop AND charger home from work, at the behest of my husband. The day prior, I was just getting settled in the office after a theme park visit (!) and a cruise (!!), but he was very worried about the news about the virus while I was much more nonchalant about it, so I humored him and packed my bag as though I was planning to do work over the weekend, which I hate and never do. That day, I remember tracking which office buildings near ours had confirmed positive cases: the building next to ours, a building owned by the same company, a building ours was connected to. The head of Port Authority was confirmed to be positive for the novel coronavirus after conducting visits to nearly every major airport, train station, and bus terminal. I went home early to avoid rush hour, but the trains were still full, and we couldn’t avoid feeling both in want of masks in such close proximity to other riders and consciousness of the stares other people of Asian descent got for wearing them. I asked leadership if we should expect to be back in the office after a week or maybe a month.
My office would ask employees to work from home one day after I began doing so. Later that evening, after “commuting” from the side of my dining table designated for work to the side of the table designated for eating, we would learn that Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks tested positive, the first celebrities who did at that time, and that the NBA was cancelling their season after Rudy Gobert tested positive. A day later, Broadway announced shows would be cancelled, and the majority of New York City offices were closed.
Today marks the first day of (astronomical) fall for the northern hemisphere and we are feeling it in the northeast US. Now that the smoke from the west coast wildfires has mostly cleared, the air is cooler, crisper. We are able to start keeping our windows open during the workday, like we did at the beginning of quarantine.
But it also means that our daylight hours are getting shorter, which we have not really had to experience since before quarantine. We have been taking stock of where New York City stands with coronavirus and trying to determine what level of comfort we have with things like seeing friends, going to reopened gyms, and more.
Schools are set to reopen and indoor dining is set to resume next week in New York. If the city isn’t bracing for another wave of cases, we certainly are here in my household. In fact, we are trying to prepare by making sure we have supplies that we may need, since we were only just able to get through the first wave.
Here’s where we stand right now and what we’re thinking about as the cold months set in:
Since the beginning of the global pandemic, my partner and I have erred on the side of extremely cautious. We stopped going to the office several days before our offices closed, which was already on the early side compared to the rest of New York. We literally did not leave our apartment building for weeks until we finally stepped out to get tested for coronavirus and its antibodies. We didn’t go out again until a few weeks after phase 4 of reopening had begun in the city, and only to pick up food from local restaurants in lieu of asking someone to deliver it to our apartment.
But we have been burning out… pretty hard. I think we have been mentally checked out for over a month, to be honest. Every single day was a huge struggle, and for me, I was sinking into a familiarly bleak place: small pleasures were no longer pleasurable, I wanted to sleep all day but when I finally went to bed I couldn’t fall asleep and then I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, keeping up with conversations was tedious and difficult, I had no appetite for the comfort foods I had stocked up on.
It became obvious that time off was necessary. Many of my coworkers had come to the same conclusion around the same time, and I suspect many of you and yours did as well. We have been living this new reality for months now, and summer brings with it a hazy lethargy during a normal year, but this year it was just exhausting to not experience it as usual.
Actually “getting away” was essentially out of the question for us. We had only just started getting comfortable venturing out of our building on foot, so trying to rent a car or even board a train felt like a really big leap that we weren’t quite prepared to make. This especially factored because we were so mentally depleted that we honestly couldn’t spare the brainpower to think about the risk management with trying to leave the city for our precious week away from our responsibilities.
At the end of the day, we really only need to get away from the obligations that burden us to make it a successful vacation. Getting away physically is a privilege that most do not have and that we don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of at this time. So, in addition to sleeping on the air mattress in the living room to create that ~away from home~ feeling, here’s how we spent our little staycation in the city.