In late March, Washington, D.C. announced official "stay at home" orders. Since then, I have been staying in my apartment for most of the time. The life of quarantine is new to me, and for sure, is new to everyone of you. I have never spent so much time alone at home for consecutive days. This sudden change has altered our daily lives and given us plenty of time to self-reflect.
Surrounded by white walls, I live in a basement apartment in Northwest DC, with a few square-sized windows exposing the sunlight. My apartment sits on a one-way street and only two small windows face the street. The traffic is light on our street, but every time cars drive by I hear the engines. Being alone in an apartment has made me highly alert to every hint of sounds, including coffee boiling, roommates walking upstairs, rain dropping, tap water dripping, stove sizzling, washing machines running, and etc. I have also become well acquainted with my shadows. My shadows are reflected everywhere in the apartment. I have never paid so much attention to my shadows until this time of upheaval.
Mental health has been a popular discussion during these times. How to pay attention to our souls, take care of our feelings, and adjust our ways to stay safe has certainly tested us like never before. The quarantine has certainly provided much time for self-reflection. So I made a slideshow of my shadows changing in the house, with the change of lamp, fluorescent and natural lights.
Sometimes, it takes me roaming outside of the apartment to feel normalcy and remind myself that the world can be wonderful. The quarantine has allowed me to reflect on things I’ve taken for granted.
I’ve been taking walks before every sunset around the National Mall. Ducklings swim around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, going about their business, free as a bird. As you keep walking by the Pool and turn around, the Washington Monument is reflected in the water. I’m so happy to be able to immerse in a bliss of joy!
People practice social distancing while taking walks, biking, riding scooters, and enjoying the beautiful scenes. Just like I feel distant to the outside world, I also feel distant to other people. The world was more friendly before.
I dream that soon enough I will be enjoying the freedom like the ducklings are when the country resumes from the global pandemic. I dream that soon enough I will be taking scooter rides with friends. I will promise myself I won’t take every snippet of my life for granted anymore.
Rainy nights have always given me a sense of quietness and peace. During these nights, I often focus on my soul, feelings, and developing new skills.
These days have helped me discover my interest in cooking. I would call my aunts asking for recipes, and find myself practicing Cantonese while asking for steps of cooking.
I am more gravitated towards meditation than ever before. It keeps me away from daily distractions. A great friend recommended me an app, Headspace, in which the narrator guides me through meditation with her British accent. Growing up, we learned British English in East Asia, and I never got used to the pronunciations. Surprisingly, I find this narrator’s accent soothing in a way.
It’s been two months of quarantine, and I have finished six books so far. My all-time favorite theme is immigration, but the quarantine makes me interested in reading books about exploring souls. My next read would be [One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965] by my favorite journalist Jia Lynn Yang.
I also have been studying Spanish. It is a beautiful and soul-touching language. This quarantine provides us with an opportunity to shape our character. We are going to come out stronger and tougher.
The quarantine has provided me ample time to reminisce about the days of my childhood. My family has moved to many places and countries since I was a kid. It is interesting to look back right now and realize that each country had its own unique style of a playground. The one thing that was universal to me was the connection I had playing alongside my childhood friends from diverse backgrounds. Laughing, running, and building a true bond of friendship with them were the highlights of my childhood! Sadly, I have lost contact with most of them.
In these days of quarantine, popular places where people used to gather seem so quiet, with the only voices that are audible being childrens' voices. We all have grown up and life has complexed us, but no matter what life challenges we face, we should always carry our pure hearts like children do.
Photography is my only gateway to get out of my apartment to get some fresh air. The world gets quiet and I am compelled to focus on sounds that are often missed in pre-quarantine days. Now the sounds of horns, the wheels turning, the kite fluttering, people laughing and birds singing are more distinctive than before. I start to appreciate the nature and the beauty of our surroundings. I am heartened to see people practicing social distancing and I hope the crowds continue to do so as it gets warmer.
I met two new graduates, Geena and Kate, from George Washington University during a sunset walk near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. There was a shortage of graduation gowns so they had to share a gown for photoshoots. This year, the pandemic made the ceremony virtual, sadly breaking the traditions of having the ceremony at the National Mall. It didn’t stop them from celebrating the joy of graduation from college with their friends and classmates.
The lockdown has been the hardest for the elderly. As we practice social distancing, I like to sometimes spend some time with my next door neighbor, Jean, who I usually call grandma, as she has been living alone. Jean always reminds me of my parental grandmas. I never had a chance to meet my grandma from my mom’s side as she passed away before I was born. I also realize that I missed some important moments with my other grandma.
It is hard to believe we have been through the quarantine from winter through almost summer. Sunset is always my favorite time during the day. I would like to close up this takeover with some golden dreamy colors.
2020 has been a very tough year of pursuing my personal dream, despite the fact that it is also the time of a global pandemic. The process of obtaining a Visa is a character shaping experience that I never expected. As challenging as it could be, I’m blessed to be surrounded with a heart-felt support network. My feelings for love and care have been way more intense than ever.It’s also a pain to hear or witness my Asian fellows to experience microaggressive attitudes or hate crimes. These incidents force me to see everything that is happening in life from a very different perspective. I’m compelled to embrace and provide love more than ever.
For this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I would love to promote peer support for my fellow Asians. For my international fellows, we’ve got this and you are going to come out tougher than you would ever imagine.