Trapped at Home While Outside Is a Ghost World


With everyone indoors, the streets are empty. (Courtesy of Ava Lichter for The Fordham Ram)

Ava Lichter, Contributing Writer

Every morning when I wake up, there is half a cup of coffee left in the pot, if anything at all. It does not matter if I wake up at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. There is never coffee. The only emotion I feel upon this discovery is blind rage, but its effect is somewhat deadened by the fact that I have just woken up. 

The culprits of this cardinal sin are my parents, for whom apparently an entire pot of coffee is not enough. So then, I am faced with the harrowing decision of whether to brew more coffee or drink the stale coffee that’s been sitting at the bottom of the pot for who knows how long. I usually just end up making more, but the few minutes between brewing and drinking are torturous. 

This small annoyance has been one of many in the past six weeks that I have spent in quarantine with my family, and I don’t have high expectations for the hassles of home life to lessen. We’re all trying to figure out how to coexist in the same space at all times, and there is definitely a learning curve. I wish we could draft a Fordham style roommate agreement or have an RA come to mediate our conflicts.

I’ve lived in New York City for my entire life without any particular desire to leave, but right now, all I want to do is get out of here. I would betray every part of myself that insisted apartment life was all I needed to live in a house. A house with space, one where I don’t have to hear whatever avant-garde jazz my dad is blasting when all I want is silence. 

I don’t even think I would feel that bad about leaving my beloved city behind, because it doesn’t feel like home anymore. The streets are barren. No stores, restaurants, bars, museums. The strangest thing is no people. In some ways, it feels like New York City keeled over and died. Or maybe it’s just in hibernation. Walking around feels like living in a ghost town, and I don’t know whether to approach it with post-apocalyptic glee or an eerie melancholy. Regardless, I can promise you that New York is not the same place that you left in early March. Trust me, you don’t want to be here right now.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the little signs of life that still exist, like the clapping and banging of pots outside of windows every night at 7 p.m. so that hospital workers getting off of their shifts can hear how thankful we are for them. Rumor has it the Naked Cowboy still lives and plays guitar to the few people who choose to spend their time in Times Square. He’s added a face mask to his outfit of only underwear and a cowboy hat, but it’s good to know he hasn’t changed too much. I know the things that make this city what it is are still alive, they’re just a little harder to find these days. 

It’s the little things that are starting to get to me. Not taking the subway, not being able to get a coffee or a bacon egg and cheese, not seeing the look on my astronomy professor’s face when I showed up two minutes late every Monday and Thursday. Junk food. And I miss the big things, too. Hanging out with my friends, eating terrible breakfast food at the caf on a Sunday morning, having late-night study sessions and being able to get pizza at any hour of the night. My quarantine hobbies have consisted of trying to take up knitting again, which I gave up pretty fast, and cooking, which is limited to avocado toast and pasta, so it seems like I will not be emerging from this crisis as a domestic goddess. 

When you step outside and the world looks so starkly different from the place you knew it to be, it can be hard to have hope. If I leave the house, I am immediately confronted with the damage that coronavirus has caused. The empty sidewalks don’t let me forget what is happening even for a second. 

So how do I not feel overwhelmed by the mess that life has become? Honestly, sometimes I do feel overwhelmed, anxious and scared, and I think that’s okay. This might sound deeply cliché, but I think it’s about trying to find the things that make you smile and holding on to them. It could be a friend whose phone calls always make you laugh, a song that makes you want to dance or a television show that makes you forget about isolation for half an hour. 

Whatever it is, find it and hold on to it, because I think we could all use a little more to smile about right now.