COVID 19 BLOG: A three-hour walk to Wrigley Field

Nora+McCaughey+recently+had+a+picnic+with+friends+in+a+parking+lot+from+12+feet+apart.+Photo+courtesy+of+Nora+McCaughey.

Nora McCaughey recently had a picnic with friends in a parking lot from 12 feet apart. Photo courtesy of Nora McCaughey.

Theodore Roosevelt’s older sister, Anne, was known to her family as “Bye” because of her constant on-the-go energy.

She’d walk in the house and be out again so fast that the only thing her family had time to say to her was, “Hi Anne! Bye Anne!”

If you asked my family, they would tell you that Anne and I are one and the same. Last summer, I held two part-time jobs and didn’t see my parents for weeks despite living in the same house as them, as I slept until after they left for work and came home long after they were in bed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but I love adventure and being with my friends even more. 

When Marquette decided to extend spring break until April, at first I’m ashamed to say, I was overjoyed. I was excited to spend more time with my dog, help my best friend put on her school’s musical and see my friends from around the country who were coming home, too.

About 24 hours later, my parents told me that I wasn’t going to be allowed to see any of my friends until this was all over.

My parents are some of the most easygoing people I know, so this was one of the first realizations I had that led to my full understanding of what was going on. I argued with them, saying my friends weren’t sick, pretty much begging on my knees. As it turns out, my best friend’s mother just tested positive for the coronavirus, which means if I had been hanging out with her — like I so desperately wanted — it’s very likely I would have gotten it, too.

The idea of this pandemic and being on lockdown was pretty much my worst nightmare. Whereas I usually was only in my house to sleep and say a quick “hello” and “goodbye” to my family in between shifts, meetings and plans, I was now being forced to say farewell to my job, friends and experiences that I was looking forward to.

When I left for spring break, I didn’t know that this was the last time I was going to be sleeping in the same building as some of my best friends. As a sophomore, specifically, I didn’t know I’d had my last hot cookie night in Cobeen Hall, my last late night snack in The Commons and my last pretzel night in Straz. I didn’t even get the chance to say an actual goodbye to friends who live across the country, who I now won’t get to see until August. 

Anxiety about the virus has filled me to the brim. Recently I was bored, so I went on a three-hour walk from my house to Wrigley Field and back again, hoping to see some neighborhood community and get some fresh air to lift my spirits. The usually hustling-and-bustling neighborhood was dead. On the rare occasion when I did see someone, we shared a knowing smile while keeping six feet from each other. No friendly conversation, no dog-petting, no casual social interaction that is so typical of Chicagoans.

I felt like I was in the first episode of “The Twilight Zone,” when a U.S. Air Force soldier emerges into a town with no people, and just keeps shouting “Where is everybody?”

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. My graduation and prom weren’t canceled, and at least I have the luxury of texting my friends and watching TV.

Anne “Bye” Roosevelt lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu, which was extremely similar to what we’re going through today. Anne had to change her whole socialite lifestyle, and she didn’t even have Netflix. Everyone keeps reminding each other it’s going to get better, and I know it will. It’s just a matter of time. In the meantime, as cliche and repetitive as it sounds, all we can do is lift our heads and check up on each other.