What the pandemic took away from me

By Victoria Ariate-Jover/El Inde

The coronavirus pandemic has affected my life in a variety of ways. In a couple of weeks, I would have been on my way to Indio, California, to attend the Coachella Music Festival with a few of my best friends.

A few weeks after that, I would have been attending my graduation at the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. My family planned on traveling from across the country to attend the ceremony and witness my success. 

My parents had me at a young age, 18 and 21, which meant my birth got in the way of their plans to attend college. I am the first child in our family to graduate from college. I saw my graduation as more of a “thank you” to them for pushing me to be better than them, and for working hard to put me through four years of college. Coronavirus took that away from me. 

I also had a part-time job as a hostess at Wildflower American Cuisine. When Tucson Mayor Regina Romero ordered that restaurants must temporarily suspend dine-in services, I was unfortunately put on furlough. My general manager informed the entire staff that our best option would be to apply for unemployment. 

But a few days after applying I found out that I did not qualify for unemployment due to the number of hours I worked and the amount of money I made over the past quarter. 

I kept thinking to myself, “How is that even fair for people who work part-time but depend on that source of income? That is money that I survive on.” 

I felt frustrated, sad, lost and most of all, stuck. I wouldn’t be able to finish my senior year on campus, nor walk at graduation. I wouldn’t be able to go to Coachella; I had no job, and no longer had an income to depend on. 

I knew that I could spend this time being negative. The anxiety of being home and trying to avoid getting sick was what worried me for a bit, too. I have multiple family members who have health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. I wanted to make sure they were safe as well. 

Luckily my boyfriend, Ryan, began to point out the positives of this entire pandemic to me. We were sitting in my car one day when I couldn’t help but shed a few tears in front of him. I vented my frustration and sadness to him, letting myself be completely vulnerable in this situation. I had nothing else to lose. 

Ryan assured me that everything would be OK regardless of what happened. He would help me find jobs after graduation and I would be able to help him look for law schools. He also pointed out that if his office closed due to the coronavirus, we would finally be able to spend more time together. 

He works at a law firm here in Tucson and works during regular office hours. If we saw each other after school and work obligations, our typical night would include dinner and a little bit of Netflix before going to bed. 

A  few weeks ago, Ryan got a call from his boss, telling him that someone in the office had tested positive for Covid-19. They would close the office for the next two weeks, and there was the chance that he might have been exposed to the virus. 

Luckily, we were already in quarantine together but after the call, we knew that we would stay in quarantine together for a while longer. Yet I didn’t mind, we have been together for two years and spend most of our time together anyway.

During this time, I have been able to learn more about myself in a lot of ways. I have learned that it is difficult for me to sit around and do nothing. I always need to be doing something, or else, I feel like the day is wasted. I have been able to use this time to work on things I didn’t have time to do before: hobbies like painting, journaling and reading. 

I have not only learned a lot about myself and been able to focus on things that I have been wanting to do, but I have also been able to bond more with Ryan. Our time in quarantine together has consisted of a lot of morning walks, cooking, going to the park, and catching up on our shows on Netflix and Hulu. Ryan is hoping to be in law school by the fall. That will open up our next chapter together of moving in together. So being stuck together has been a test, but it has also felt like a very natural for our relationship. 

Despite the many things I have lost or had to give up during this time, I have been able to realize that there is a lot to be thankful for. I still have my family and friends, even if I can’t see them in person. I have a home, food, and a place to sleep at night. Everyone I love is healthy, including myself.

The Earth is healing due to less human activity, and although the number of infected people around the world is still high, there are many who are recovering from Covid-19.

I believe that this weird, altered time will allow everyone to learn more about themselves, and in the process, heal. 

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