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What It's Like to Live Away From Family During Coronavirus

My Parents Wanted Me to Go Home to Social Distance — Here's Why I Chose Not To

When I first packed my bags and bought my one-way ticket to California from Boston, there was a slew of things I thought about. I knew moving across the country to pursue my dream job was the right thing to do, but I couldn't help but think: what if something bad happens? Just about every possibility crossed my mind — death, sickness, a natural disaster — but never, not once, did a global pandemic.

COVID-19 came out of left field, and I, like many others, was unsure of the right play.

COVID-19 came out of left field, and I, like many others, was unsure of the right play. Cases were quickly popping up all over the US, and suddenly, the whole country was on lockdown. My parents, who had been calm, cool, and collected about the whole thing up until that point, now had fear in their voices. The question was asked: "Why don't you come home?"

"Why don't I go home?" I thought to myself. I can be around my family, see my dog, eat free food, and get homemade dinners. Flights were also cheap, so it all sounded good to me. But as with all pros come cons, and there was one very large con that outweighed the pros of snuggling Henry (my dog) and eating homemade meals: I could have the virus. What would happen if I went home to see my family and infected them all in the process? The bad thoughts just spiraled from there. I decided for them and myself that it was best I stayed here, 3,000 miles away, in San Francisco.

It was weird at first. Reading the news and hearing the bleak predictions, you want to be with your family (or at least within a 50-mile radius). My parents' texts weren't helping, either: "I'm glad you're out there following your dreams, but I really wish you were closer to home." Ugh, break my heart, why don't you? It was even harder knowing it was my decision to stay in California, not theirs. Although they said they understood, I could tell they wished I were home. I did, too.

I comforted myself with tomato soup and grilled cheese, a staple in my house growing up, and talked it out with my roommate. She made me feel better. I also began limiting my exposure to news so I'd stop thinking of all the bad headlines. After a few weeks, I adjusted to the norm of being across the country during a pandemic, and for the first time, it felt right. I realized going home wasn't all that I built it up to be. It wasn't a vacation. Sure, flights were cheap, but they were cheap for a reason — no one was flying. If I took the risk, I'd be wearing a mask and gloves on my six-hour flight home, and I wouldn't be able to eat at my favorite restaurant or visit my grandmother or any of my friends once I got there. I'd essentially be under one roof with my parents for the foreseeable future, and while I love them, that's no walk in the park.

The truth is we're all struggling with this virus in our own way. If everyone hopped on flights to see their families, these stay-at-home orders would have no purpose. By doing our part to help flatten the curve, we're doing the best we can. I now rest easy knowing (and feeling) that in some small way, I made the right decision. My parents have even come around to the fact that I won't be home for a while. A few more texts are now exchanged each day, and our phone calls consist of ways to solve COVID-19 (like we're experts), but that's OK. What's important is that everyone's healthy and safe, and Zoom is always there if we need a little face time. I'm happy with my decision to not go home, and in hindsight, I know staying put is worth it.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Haley Lyndes
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