If you know me well enough, you know that I am not a homebody. I’m always on the move!
I make weekly runs to Wawa. I regularly stop in at my friends’ house. And on most weekends, I visit bars in Manayunk and Fishtown. I’m very much an extrovert.
I dropped everything I was doing in America and flew to Kraków, Poland to study abroad for a semester. While living in Kraków, I studied Polish language, history, and culture (I’m Polish-American) and visited other Polish cities, such as Gdańsk, Toruń, and Wrocław. I also flew to Munich, Germany, and took a road trip to Vienna, Austria.
I love to travel. And whenever I can afford to, I pick up and go. Where am I going next? Nowhere! Like many of you, I’m on lockdown in Philadelphia.
The coronavirus outbreak, which temporarily shuttered many of my favorite places, made me realize how much I took my social life for granted. My closest friends, whom I used to regularly visit, are rightfully practicing social distancing. For us, this means only connecting through our phones.
When I talked to my friends recently, a couple of them shared how the coronavirus outbreak was impacting their lives.
Patrick Lapinski, who’ve I known since I was five years old, is a truck driver whose job is considered essential. He described to me seeing empty roads and often feeling hungry because his vehicle is too large to access a restaurant’s drive-thru.
“Almost all restaurants have closed their dining areas, which makes it more difficult for truck drivers to get a meal,” he said.
And Evan Zangakis, whom I met on campus three years ago, is a Physics major at Temple University. His commencement ceremony has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, and like most students in his situation, he is sad and disappointed.
“It feels like all of my hard work was in vain, that I was stripped of the opportunity to begin my life and career. I’m in stasis with no end in sight,” he said.
To boost our morale, my friends and I exchange funny memes and talk by phone often.
During this health crisis, many young people have been portrayed as unconcerned with the severity of the moment. They’re booking cheap flights and have been seen partying on the beaches. But I am staying home, because my mother, who has asthma, is considered at high-risk for serious complications if she contracts the coronavirus.
Being stuck at home, I’ve developed serious cabin fever. And I’m eating way too many snacks, like Colby Jack cheese sticks, Sour Patch Kids, and bowls of instant ramen noodles.
But I’ve also been reading and cooking a lot, which has been fun. My little brother has been my taste tester, and so far, he hasn’t had an upset stomach.
Being in the kitchen and creating meals, like pasta and mussels smothered in a sweet tomato garlic sauce, has helped take my mind off of COVID-19, the disease which so far has killed more than 2,400 people in the U.S.
A result of this pandemic has been a record breaking number of Americans filing for unemployment. But I remain optimistic in my job search. Every day, as new positions are uploaded to career sites, such as LinkedIn, I’m submitting applications.
With so much uncertainty in the world, including a seemingly growing economic recession, it is easy to become frustrated, scared and downright angry. But we can’t just focus on the bad. We should use this moment to reflect on the good in life. And we must be as productive as we can.
Now is the time to indulge in your hobbies or begin a new one.
Go on a hike. Start journaling, as it can help you think through your problems and map out goals. Learn a new skill, get creative in the kitchen, create art, discover and stream documentaries or catch-up with family.
But whatever you do, stay home.
Thomas A. Duliban is a Polish-American and a 2019 graduate of Temple University, where he majored in Philosophy. He’s also an advocate for people with disabilities and a bass for a Polish choir.
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