From Aemelia Tripp, Member of the Seattle Service Corps:
Quarantining in Community: Thoughts from a Seattle Service Corps Member
Living with five other people, you might think this quarantine situation would be less of a burden. Or maybe you’re an introvert thinking being stuck with this many people at once is your waking nightmare. For this ambivert, it’s been a time of both solitary reflection and togetherness, searching for grounding in this unusual time.
Let me give you a little background: I am part of the Seattle Service Corps, which is a group of six young adults living together in community while serving at non-profit organizations around the city. We have been together since September 2019 and have a little over two months left in our contract. We have spent a lot of time together in our apartment and out in the city, but in the last month we have been adjusting to a new normal along with the rest of you.
With bad news coming from us at every angle: Michigan (my home state) and others protesting the stay at home order, blocking ambulances and healthcare workers from getting to the hospital, with limited supplies for those healthcare workers and many falling ill, with a president who consistently cares for no one but himself, we live in a country that is often cold and individualistic. It’s often hard to see the caring and compassionate, community-oriented sides to this situation. The light in this darkness.
Yet, I find glimpses of hope. In the food banks and day centers remaining open, manufacturing plants switching their production to ventilators and PPE for healthcare workers, people supporting non-profits who provide essential services, Go Fund Me pages for workers in our favorite bars, people ordering take out from local restaurants so they can stay afloat…the list goes on.
Hope and joy are evident too in our Service Corps community: evenings water coloring, watching Marvel movies and being newly enamored with Baby Groot, an extended-version trip to Middle Earth, taking walks alone and together around Volunteer Park, seeing spring bloom, saying compline, sitting on our porch, Facetiming friends from afar, missing friends near, eating meals together, celebrating Easter digitally by watching services, and writing encouraging notes to each other for a Maundy Thursday meal.
We are lucky that this is our new normal. The weekdays are fast for those of us still working, the weekends are slow, with so much extra time to fill. I don’t like the idea of “killing time” but that’s often how it feels – wiling away the hours. So I try to think instead of extra time as a gift – a time to create and engage or even as a time to just be still. To not accomplish things, but revel in the silence and the slowness. To practice saying “it’s okay, and, even, it is good” when I don’t complete everything on my to do list. A practice of forgiveness and acceptance, and an acknowledgement of a collective grief – loss of the normalcy that we knew.
It’s helpful for me in this time to live with five other people experiencing similar emotions – to experience this change with a community around me has been a blessing. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t acknowledge my privilege in this situation, seen in my health and safety, and to say thank you to the people who continue to help society function and survive this unusual time. This situation does not offer hope for everyone, so let us all be gentle with one another, helping those who ask, and offering a digital hand to hold for those who wish for comfort. The world is in this together, so let us be the community of support that we all need at this time.