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Good Morning Miami: Navigating this unfamiliar chapter

Instead of being mere miles, or even steps, away from our friends, the coronavirus has sent us to all corners of the country and beyond. So actually, taking time zones into account, perhaps it’s afternoon for some of you. But nonetheless, good morning Miami, wherever you are.

The last time we chatted, we all resided in a comfortable little bubble in Oxford, Ohio. That was only a few short months ago, but the world has changed a lot in the last couple of weeks. 

It feels like just yesterday — though it was actually March 9 — that I sat in the newsroom at Miami University, laughing and chatting with friends on staff. Our talking paused for a moment as a rumor that Ohio State would be canceling classes for a few weeks circulated. The thought passed through my brain, unwilling to rest there permanently. 

No classes? What would that even look like? I didn’t want to think about it, and I figured I’d be back in a few weeks. 

This is why my apartment in Oxford looks like I just stepped out for a moment. My bed is neatly made. Colorful artwork scatters the walls. Clothes are in drawers. The purple towels I forgot to fold before I left rest in my laundry basket. 

Yet that sector of my life continues on without me — eerily frozen in time — because I left Oxford on March 13, and honestly, I’m not sure when I’ll be back. 

My idealistic hopes about returning to campus ended when Miami canceled classes a few weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been wandering through a brand new world of Google Hangouts, WebEx and Zoom classes. From muted microphones to blurry video quality to talking over each other, it hasn’t been an easy adjustment. 

I haven’t been outside very much — except to take walks or play basketball with my siblings. I’m working through those online classes and trying to build a new structure out of nothing. If I chose to, the days would simply march by in a haze of inactivity, but the fact that I’m paying thousands of dollars for a college education motivates me to do otherwise. 

In times of crisis and confusion, our generation turns to humor (which I continually have to explain to my parents). We post memes on social media, crafting funny tweets or beginning fitness challenges or funny trends like “until tomorrow” on Instagram. There is, however, one exception to this. A few days ago, I came across an Instagram post that said it was Sunday. 

Sir, most people hardly know what day of the week it is. Please don’t confuse us further. For those wondering, it was actually Saturday. 

The days-of-the-week confusion is just one piece of the 1,000 piece puzzle of unfamiliarity our society is trying to put together. I’ve found that nostalgia is an excellent way to combat those feelings of unfamiliarity because they take us back to a simpler time. 

I’m pulling old books I adored as a kid off the bookshelf, and I’m reading them. I’m playing cards with my sister. Listening to old music. My cousins and I created new Club Penguin accounts (you’ll read more about that in another article next week). And since there’s no new baseball or hockey games on television, my family and I are going to YouTube old ones. 

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We’ve all complained about being busy, buried in work or school, and now we’ve got this time stretching in front of us. Nothing like this has ever happened before – like literally ever. Nobody knows what they’re doing, really, no matter what perfect daily plan they’re posting on Twitter. 

It’s hard to know exactly what’s coming next. This virus, by nature, is incredibly unpredictable. We do know it spreads quickly, and it’s probably about to get a lot worse as more tests are distributed and results come back. So if you’re not already, please practice social distancing and wash your hands. Just do it. 

I’ve been reading lots of stories about coronavirus, but this one, published on March 27 in the New York Times frightened me. It scared me because the author — a previously healthy 45-year old — is writing from a hospital bed, recovering from coronavirus. What he has had to endure breaks my heart, but from his writing, it’s clear he’s surrounded by an incredible team of healthcare workers. 

I do miss old routines and the way things used to be, but hearing stories like his put everything into perspective. Life is precious, and we’ve got healthcare workers everywhere risking their own well-being and safety to help our country get back on its feet. 

To each of them, I’d just like to say thank you. The promise of returning to normalcy lies in the distance and because of them, we’re going to get there. 

@emily_dattilo 

dattilec@miamioh.edu

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