What final pre-pandemic memory do you keep returning to? What were you and your loved ones or colleagues talking about a year ago?
When: February 20, 2020
Where: NYC, driving to JFK Airport for a flight to South America
Mental state: Harried, running late
Medium: Phone call
My mom: are you bringing any masks with you?
Me: Why masks? Hasn't coronavirus been completely contained to Asia?
At that point, my only awareness of masks, especially in airports, was that only non-American, post-SARS Asians wore masks. I didn't want to be associated with the image, didn't want to be mistaken for a foreigner. I now regret this silly attitude
When: March 1, 2020
Where: NYC apt
Mental state: Exhausted. Packing and unpacking and repacking between three back-to-back trips. Traveling is an insane luxury and privilege that I was trying to take advantage of in business school, but I've overdone it. I haven't yet learned that the first case of coronavirus had been confirmed in New York.
Medium: tired thoughts
Me, in my mind, to myself: oh what I would give to be able to sit quietly in a room with Peter indefinitely
The trip I was packing for was canceled the next day, to my immense relief. A relief quickly countered by increasing concern for the pandemic.
When: March 3, 2020
Where: NYC, reading my texts on the subway
Mental state: Extreme worry. Realizing things are about to change drastically
Medium: group text message, discussing a cross-country trip planned for NYC that weekend
S: Should I cancel too 😅 I’m serious!! Plz advise lol
Me: I would love to see you but honestly I would lean toward no
T: We fine
D: This whole thing is overblown we will all be ok Death rate in our age cohort is very low
The conversation continued and became more callous. The facts I shared were countered by completely fabricated statistics to support continuing life as normal. I felt dismissed and gaslit, and ultimately couldn't stay friends with these people. Long-simmering differences could no longer be ignored in a very early case of COVID-19 friend breakup.
When: March 8, 2020
Mental state: mental health free-for-all, at this point
Lee Bollinger (President of Columbia University): I am writing this evening to notify everyone that, because a member of our community has been quarantined as a result of exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have decided to suspend classes on Monday and Tuesday.
This same day marks the last movie I saw in a movie theater: Impractical Jokers: The Movie at Cinema Village. While I wish I could look back and say my last movie in a theater was Fanny and Alexander or Jeanne Dielman at an arthouse cinema like Film Forum or Quad, it is what it is.