At the edge of autumn | Wellness

Isolation Diaries

Editor’s note: The Isolation Diaries is a Health and Wellness series about living in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the state of Hawaii, where I live, COVID-19 is gaining a larger foothold every day. What used to be single or double-digit increases in cases in the previous months is now growing by hundreds every single day. Still, with travel restrictions in place, as well as proper cautionary measures, my island of residence, Maui, is staying as safe as it can. For our sake, it better stay that way — there’s only one acute care hospital on the entire island.

When you go to college out of state, things are strange when you get back. Suddenly you don’t have a car; suddenly you and your old friends don’t talk as much. Suddenly, there’s a global pandemic happening, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Suddenly, the whole world is speaking up against centuries of racial injustice.

With both parents working and everybody either trapped at home or trapped somewhere else in this country, most days I’m stuck at home with nothing but my thoughts. This is a dangerous thing. One minute I’m on my 500th YouTube video of the day, and the next I’m reliving the time I said something embarrassing to a floormate in winter quarter, or one of the millions of opportunities I botched throughout my first year at the UW. 

This, compared to what the rest of the world is facing, is a good problem. I’m sure that most would rather relive a regretful social interaction than lose their jobs or their loved ones. So why do I get to feel bad? Why do I feel the way I feel when people are in the world losing their families and their livelihoods?

During the day, I live inside a vacuum, playing the guitar or rewatching “Whiplash” for the ninth time. With every night of sleep, that September 2Xth move-in day inches closer and closer. When I think back to where I was a year ago, a starry-eyed freshman with all of these grandiose expectations, I feel disappointed. Maybe I expected too much of myself. Now more than ever, my myopic visions of adulthood seem so far from reality.

I think about how difficult it was for my partner and me to maintain our relationship across the Pacific last year. I think about how it won’t get any easier over the next year. For me — carless, unemployed at home, and an ocean away from his college — there is no reality where I am completely content. 

Underneath everything, there is fear in me: fear of a disease that doesn’t stop killing; fear of a morally bankrupt society; fear of a cold, gray, uncaring city. I am afraid that I’ll waste another year away. 

One month until I return to Seattle, and I can’t say if that will make things better or worse. If anything, it will be different. There, maybe I can make actual change, work toward something greater than myself, toward the future. 

Maybe I’m expecting too much again. 

Reach writer Joshua Lee at Twitter: @theleejosh

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