On March 16, my county was informed that we would begin a mandatory shelter-in-place beginning at 12:01 am as a response to the CoronaVirus pandemic. The news spread quickly through countless group chats, Instagram posts, and Snapchat stories as our town population promptly realized that our sense of freedom would soon be depleted.
Soaking in my last hours of liberty, I drove myself through familiar local streets. Yet, I noticed that the sense of livelihood and spirit usually radiating throughout my quaint little town was missing. Townspeople that could often be spotted soaking up the sunlight in front yards were absent, busy stocking up on canned foods in grocery stores that resembled crowded fish tanks. Friends that used to converse in downtown parks hid behind closed doors out of fear for breaking social distancing mandates. The visualization of an invisible pathogen insidiously spread through every block, corner, and neighborhood, leaving no individual untouched by panic and uncertainty.
It felt as though every clock counted down to the beginning of our new lockdown, yet, when the new day began, the momentous shift I was awaiting failed to occur. I woke up in the same bed, in the same house, on the same street, yet still, something seemed to be different. The world before me appeared the same, but the breath of life had been sucked away.
Yet, I could put my finger on one tangible shift as our new life in quarantine began: the rain. If life were normal, us Californians would greet the downpour with a frown and a reluctant reach for our rain jackets. If life were normal, we would run to our cars and pull the door shut as quickly as we could to minimize contact with the droplets that drowned out our beloved sunshine. If life were normal, we would resort to a movie or a book rather than our usual outside excursions, turning up the volume on our TVs to drown out the sound of the precipitation. And yet, the gloomy days ahead of us seemed to mirror so perfectly our internal feelings of distress. But I had forgotten something: life wasn’t normal.
Local hiking trails, though drowned with mud rather than solid ground, were filled to the brim with walkers and joggers alike. Dog owners took their sweet time following familiar neighborhood routes. Grocery shoppers calmly strolled back to the refuge of the dry car as if there wasn’t a raindrop in sight. On a day when every natural force seemed to beg us to succumb to hopelessness and gloom, we did the opposite. We didn’t need an umbrella, we didn’t need to pull our doors shut, and we certainly didn’t need to hide.
This rain was something we could depend on, something that wasn’t canceled by a pandemic like our proms, classes, and graduations were. This rain was a reminder that when everything seems to be put on hold, the world continues, and no virus can be so powerful as to disrupt the forces of nature. This rain was a manifestation of the fact that each breath of fresh air is a reason for gratitude and joy. This rain was a reminder that though so many aspects of each day seemed to be ripped out of our control, there was still something over which we held all power: how we respond to this new way of life.
Lexi Kupor is a proud member of Neshikot BBG #2536 of Central Region West.
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