The Lonely Summer
COVID on Campus: The Lonely Summer
Growing up I always wanted to be really independent. I’m an only child so I guess there’s something in me where I want to prove that I can take care of myself, which I am able to do in college.
When I was home for quarantine I kind of reverted back to my high school self, which didn’t feel so good. Obviously I appreciated being at home with my parents and getting to spend all that time with them, but it was also kind of like, ‘oh, I want to be doing my own thing.’ It sucked to have so much freedom for months and then have that all taken away.
Being in quarantine also meant being alone a lot of the time. I really don’t like being alone. For so many days, I had nothing to do and everything just felt so meaningless, just waking up with no tasks to accomplish or no goals in mind.
I was never like ‘why am I waking up?’ but I was like ‘if I oversleep five hours nothing is going to happen, so why don’t I just go back to sleep?’
I had so much free time that I didn’t really know what to do with myself. Whenever I felt lonely or just not too good about myself, I would try to find some kind of distraction.
First, I just made a bunch of FaceTime calls. I probably made like 20 to 30 calls a week, but that was just for like two weeks because I definitely couldn’t keep that up for the entirety of quarantine.
I also had school stuff and work for the Daily Orange. Then, in March, I got my summer internship.
I was supposed to intern for this summer collegiate baseball league called the Cape Cod Baseball League. I was going to spend two months living in Cape Cod — I found a person to rent a room from and all that stuff — and be a writer for their team basically, except their season got canceled. So it’s like, what are you supposed to do? It ended up being much less work; I just did a couple smaller stories and worked on a new website for them from home.
When I took a break from my work, I would go for a lot of drives in the hills because I really like driving a lot. I guess it kind of has to do with me being independent, I always wanted to drive because I was like ‘oh, that’s how I’m going to be as a grown-up.’
I would go on these hour-long drives in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At the beginning of quarantine, I’d do this every day and my dad was like ‘stop wasting so much gas.’ So after, I would say it was probably like 2-3 times a week if you average it all out.
I think that was the best alone time that I had. I would blast music, mostly Post Malone and Chance the Rapper — I’m pretty basic when it comes to music — and roll the windows down and just drive along these windy, mountainous roads. Being out in nature alone is really cool, especially when there are nice views. I just don’t want to be alone in my house.
I’ve always had an appreciation for nature and I kind of used photography to connect with it more. I took a month-long photography class in the beginning of June, but I pretty much took photos all of quarantine. I took a lot of pictures of the night sky and of my friends at the beach. I also shot a bunch of redwood trees — I really liked those trees, I think they’re my favorite.
The best part of my quarantine, however, was when I came back to New York. I had to do a two-week quarantine before coming to campus because California was added to the list, so me and another friend stayed with my roommate at his lake cabin in Cooperstown.
We would spend the whole day outside swimming in the lake or just sitting in the sun, playing music or a bunch of board games. We would watch TV and then grill for dinner every day, like burgers and hotdogs, fish, chicken.
That was probably the happiest I’ve been in a really long time. That was amazing.
Now, being back at school, I’m busy so I don’t really have time to think about feeling lonely or whether I’m happy by myself, I’m just working. I think the bottom line is that when I’m with people and I’m busy, I’m happier.
I know some of my friends came out of quarantine like, “I feel like I learned how to be by myself” and I was like, “How did you do that? Like, tell me, because I have no idea.
This as-told-to interview is part of COVID on Campus, a series created by students in the Reporting classes at the Newhouse School in Fall 2020. COVID on Campus documents the experiences of students, staff, and faculty living through this extraordinary time.