They call New Jersey the Garden State. It’s also the state that was hit awfully bad because it is right next to a city that was hit pretty hard in connection to the COVID-19. During quarantine, I often miss my interaction with my friends where we would laugh so hard our stomachs start to ache and at that point, we’re laughing at absolutely nothing. I miss playing basketball and getting excited if I even make two points the entire game. I miss seeing the kids playing outside hearing them gossip as they ride past my house and my dog barks loudly. I wonder if others feel the same as me in other states where covid hit worse or even better. I decided to talk to my friend Kledian because he lives in an entirely different place than me and I wanted his perspective. One of my friends who I have met through another friend lives in an entirely different place than me. I couldn’t physically meet with him because of quarantine, so I set up a FaceTime call to see what the situation is like for him.
“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
Kledian lives in New York City, known as the city that never sleeps. No matter the time of the day, you will see bright lights. At night, it’s filled with vibrant hues of yellow, pink, and blue; It feels/seems/looks as if the city is saying “please come here!” Its population hosts people of various different cultures that make the city even brighter/more vibrant/etc. But because it’s so populated, it is also a city that gets hit especially hard by natural disasters. COVID’s impact led New York City to be the only city in the country to get hit with 418,000 confirmed cases and over 32,000 deaths.
“We missed when the kids in our block would just be kids, instead, they are locked up in homes with no information other than the info the government gives us.”
I first asked Kledian how the virus affects his way of living. “I Have to get used to not meeting with friends. Wearing a mask everywhere I go. It was a struggle not being able to play ball because it was fun and I had to go do something else for fun.” He then told me about his new habit of going for long walks and how this has become a “reflecting period of time,” where he’s had to be more careful of the people he’s around. The sun shining, birds chirping, viewing the familiar faces; Kled missed those parts of life before COVID. Those parts where everyone is outside because it’s a sunny day and the fire hydrants are open with children barefoot running in the puddles of the water screaming at the top of their lungs with a sense of playfulness related in that sense. We missed when the kids in our block would just be kids, instead, they are locked up in homes with no information other than the info the government gives us.
We can only go by the information the government is telling us, so how does one feel being within a large city where the virus was increasing every day? I asked Kled about how he feels the state and federal government is handling this whole situation, and what type of information he is receiving from the government. “I feel the governor is right with the things he says but I think he’s a hypocrite,” Kled says about governor Cuomo. He feels that Cuomo says and recommends all the right things, but he doesn’t do these things himself. Kled also mentioned that he doesn’t feel Trump is doing a good job overall with managing the pandemic and being a president in general. “I mean he said ‘when the looting starts the shooting starts,’ that’s not something you say to the people you are in charge of and protecting.” Although Kled feels there’s a lot Trump could have handled better, he does believe that he made the right choice cutting off travel to and from China before corona got too bad. Kled also spoke about how the government is telling NYC, to wear masks anytime in big crowds, do not go to parties, and remain a six feet distance. That is the same as my experience in New Jersey, except the crowds are being allowed to increase more rapidly over the weeks.
When talking about the overall situation, Kled believes “it will get better, but until a vaccine is made it will not be too much better so we need to wear masks and be careful.” This led me to wonder if he feels safe in his own environment and he did not hesitate to respond when I asked him about it. “I don’t feel scared about getting corona because there aren’t many cases in my area and I am very careful with what I do,” Kled said with great confidence and no hesitation, driven by his hope that things will get better. He highlighted this sense of hope when he shared his favorite quote by Thich Nhat Hanh: “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” Kled tole me that this quote resonates with him “because with everything going on and the world as it is, it gives me hope that everything will be okay and that if I keep hope I can get through it.”