quarantine in philly

Sunday, 13 June, 2020

Today, Philadelphia has been in the Yellow Phase for a couple of days now. To be honest, Red Phase or Yellow Phase, Sunday or Monday, June or May, time is a concept that has been forgotten for us, people who have been in quarantine for five months.

Today, we decided to venture out into the streets to go to a furniture store. After the trip, we stopped by a soul food truck and got some typical, almost too typical, Black American food: chicken sandwich, baked beans and crabcake. We waited for a good amount of time in the grassy area where the food truck was located. It was a nice day, one of those days where you can feel it’s half spring, half summer: the sun made my eyes squinted, the summer heat on my neck, the smell of the green wet grass, the red lady bugs sitting on my legs. I am normally unappreciative of these sensations, I realized, that are just given to us by nature. I enjoy the outdoor and I love sitting in the sun with a cool summer breeze, but I don’t think I spend enough time appreciating them and thinking how they come about bringing enjoyment into our lives.

We ate the food in the car, hungrily and aggressively content. My friend’s mom was steering the wheel with her left hand, her right hand grabbing a piece of fries. She asked me to help her cut her chicken sandwich in half, so she can eat it while driving. This right here is probably one of the most American thing I’ve ever experienced: eating in a car while driving because you are hungry when you don’t necessarily have the time to actually sit down and eat. I was thinking that if I were to do this in Vietnam, my mom would scream at me, saying that it is dangerous and will leave the car smelling like food. My friend’s mom interrupted my flow of thoughts, telling me how potentially dangerous it is but Americans do it anyway because “we don’t appreciate the time we have for eating at all”. I find it funny how mine and her thoughts align. The American culture have taught us to be more appreciative of productivity and less appreciative of taking a break.

Thankfully, time spent in quarantine in America did the exact opposite for me. Quarantine taught me to find values in taking breaks and not being productive. I still struggle to think about this sometimes, and I still find myself trying to do something other than watching movies, so that I can tell myself I have been productive today. I still have these moments where I would suddenly flinch and sit up straight, my brain suddenly fired up and searching through my rumbled thoughts, hastily finding the plans that I told myself I would do today, only to find out that I actually don’t have anything that I have to do today. I can do it if I want to, but it would also be okay to do it tomorrow. I’m not used to having these thought at all.

I would like to think that I am still remaining productive, not with the usual grind in college, but in the sense that I did do something valuable and that I completed the task to a satisfactory standard. Well, my satisfactory standard. These days, I read books, I write, I play with the dogs, I peel an orange, I take a shower, without thinking about what I’m going to do next. Unlike college when I finish one task just to finish another task, now, I finish something because I simply want to do it. This is a valuable lesson for the impatient and obsessive me in college.

Things take time, and that’s okay.

Things take time, just enjoy where you are now.