Quarantine Chronicles: Taking Time to Take Stock

No two days are exactly alike. That’s one thing that’s surprised me so far during my five weeks at home. No two days have been exactly alike.

Each day obviously has a lot of the same underlying elements, namely that the COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse by most metrics, at least in the U.S. and specifically where I am now situated in Los Angeles.

But other than that, and other than the fact that I’ve got one or two Zoom meetings a day, every day pretty much is wide open to differences. Some days, especially now that we’ve hit midterm season, are all studying and then trying to get my mind off studying.

But especially during the first few weeks of quarantine, a lot of my days have been completely different, which is helping keep my spirits up in whatever limited way they can be. As a disclaimer, like many of the other “Quarantine Chroniclers” you’ve read up to this point, my experience is coming from a place of privilege. My family is still in a position to put food on the table and luckily can work and learn from home with adequate internet access. I am very thankful and grateful for this and hope that this article helps people in any and all situations work through this period in our lives.

Before I saturated my days with studying and the cyclical recovery period of playing “Madden” or “MLB The Show” at the end of the day — that’s where being the sports editor comes in I guess — , each day was unlike any other I’ve really experienced before, filled with a whole new host of occupants.

In the beginning, almost everything was related to being home for an extended period for the first time since the summer with no option of going outside to find distractions. Normally, I’m not into stopping and reflecting and planning. I like to go, go, go, especially when I’ve been home for winter or summer breaks since leaving for college. My ideal day doesn’t involve spending any time in my room outside of sleeping. I’d be hiking, or at the beach, or really anywhere.

But without this option — and yes, I know some people are still doing these things, but I’m a pretty risk-averse person, I’ve been doing a lot more introspection.

Initially, I turned my sights to cleaning out my desk. Over the years, I’ve sort of saved everything with any shred of sentimental value, something quickly realized by anyone who’s made it past the doorway. Most of what I save has gotten stuffed indiscriminately into a dark recess of my desk or closet or bookshelf. Basically, cleaning my room was an undertaking, and I’m still not done.

Most of the heavy lifting was fairly easy. I recycled all the newspapers I’d saved. That cleared up so much space because “all the newspapers” literally was every single issue I’d been published in from high school on, which, as I write it down, sounds a little psychotic.

But moving right along towards the point of my story, the cleaning process brought me face to face with all sorts of memories, good and bad. I found all of my old yearbooks and got to remember some friends I haven’t talked to enough in the intermediate years between the publication of that yearbook and today. I even called or texted some of them, finding various degrees of enthusiasm on the other end.

Between the yearbooks and the old newspapers, plenty of my high school experience came back to me, and it motivated me to look back through all the places where memories could be of that time. I went through my phone and computer, scouring all the pictures and videos, sharing those moments with friends. Obviously, most of those memories are skewed towards the good times and are definitely not full pictures of the past. But they’re a pretty good start, and good memories are about all I can handle right now anyways.

Those are the most obvious sources of memories, but the most impactful ones have come from random things I’ve been doing at home. I found the ticket from my first concert and remember how cool it was to walk into the Hollywood Bowl for the first time and see Mac Demarco open for Phoenix, and to take the bus back to the Valley with the throngs. I found old second place trophies and thought about my entire sports life, and the moments I wish I could go back and change. I watched the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians being rerun on TV and I remember how I watched it during the three weeks I spent home from school during my bout with mono. I found my 7-11 receipt with 11 Slurpees on it and 11 “free Slurpee” subtractions on it — one of my biggest triumphs. I found the old baseball a minor leaguer tossed to me in the stands after I talked to the bullpen guys for the first few innings. I found the first books that made me cry and the first books that I re-read. I found old birthday cards with silly inscriptions, and then pored over all of my old yearbook signatures, wishing to know how I signed other people’s. I picked up an old press pass from a high school football game and thought of the countless hours I spent broadcasting games all over LA, which led to my friends recovering some embarrassing sound bites and footage of me.

None of it is inherently any more valuable than the random homework I still had. And a lot of it got recycled right alongside it. I decided that as great as all of it was, there were just some things I couldn’t hold onto forever. The physical manifestations of these memories are amazing, but I can’t practically hold onto these shreds of my old life forever. Of course, there are some things I have no plans on parting with, but I’ve learned that I’ve got to start somewhere. And there doesn’t seem to be a better time than now, when each day brings back a new memory, and a new recycling pile.