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  • Writer's pictureShayne Tarquinio

COVID-19 Shakes the World

The panic hit America around the time of Spring Break. I was in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with friends and coming back felt like the beginning of a dystopian novel. The media sounded alarms, Italy was crumbling, the virus was inching closer day by day, and toilet paper was nowhere to be found. My group chats were filled with false alarm mass messages. Panicked pleads to stay inside, witty quarantine jokes, failing mental health tweets or ones oozing with stir-crazed sexual frustration populated social media space.

At the beginning, I was excited by all of it. To watch the world change day by day was fascinating. Says the journalist, my friends joked. I was even prompted to make a documentary about it all, a project that was short-lived.

And then, things started to get scary. My parents respected my independent life in Tucson but wanted me home, desperately. My bosses at the Italian restaurant I waited tables at feared for their business, for their health, for their family. More and more people got infected, more and more people started to die, and all of a sudden it no longer felt like a Twitter joke, it no longer felt exciting.

The reality of the situation crashed down on me, and the reality was the insecurity of the future.

The coronavirus became the most controversial topic in the world. Politicians seemed to have different agendas than scientists; the cries of the media were not reflecting the realities of some communities; Donald Trump assured Americans that the situation was under control while Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race to focus all energy on fighting the virus. Workers are classified as essential and non-essential. Some of my friends locked themselves down from the world, others thought it ridiculous. It was so confusing. It still is so confusing.

Now, as the summer heat begins to settle in, people aren't as panicked. We’ve adjusted to the new normal and we are learning how to navigate through all the noise, to come to decisions that best suit our families, our communities, and our lifestyles. Arizona’s stay at home order has ended. Restaurants and bars have opened back up, with restrictions. Tomorrow, gyms and pools reopen in Tucson. However, health officials are unsure if Arizona has even peaked.

Lives and jobs have been lost, this still has not changed. Seniors don't get prom, no graduation. Weddings and festivals and legislative sessions have been postponed. Travel is cheap, but risky. Local business struggle the most.

Yet, the world is healing. Waters are clearing. People are singing. My best friend delivers cookies to neighbors; my family has game nights; I’ve started writing again.

I do wonder what’s next, but mostly I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this pause. I’ve grounded myself in my own essentials - staying active both mentally and physically, keeping connected with family, with friends, and continuously finding my own balance in this crazy, brave new world.

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