I had never seen my dad home on a weekday before Monday, March 30. Every day, for as long as I can remember, my dad had gotten up at 6:30 AM and come home at 6:30 PM. I can attest to the latter because ever since I learned how to make Indian chai, I have been making a pot in the late afternoon such that it is still hot when my dad gets home. On that Monday, however, my dad slept in. The hospital at which my dad works had canceled all elective procedures. I had already begun online classes for college, so just before my morning class started, I peeked into his bedroom. He looked so peaceful I couldn’t help but smile.
The stay-at-home order has given my family the opportunity to spend more quality time with one another. We cook at home more often, eat every meal together, and discuss current events. I celebrated my birthday, that too my 21st, at home for the first time in three years. We discover and appreciate idiosyncrasies in one another that we had not noticed before. My mother is a homemaker, and spending more time at home has made me recognize the work that goes into tasks, such as cooking three meals a day, and recognize the many subtle tasks she does, such as watering our coriander plant and cleaning our bathroom sinks. Because my brother and I already spend so much time looking at a screen for school, we play board games instead of watching a movie on Friday nights, which has allowed for more collaboration and conversation. Finance is one of the topics that my dad and I have been discussing more frequently. The pandemic’s impact on the economy has helped me learn more about stocks, loans, and health insurance, topics that are not covered in school yet are invaluable for an almost college graduate.
Not only have we bonded as a family, but we have also grown closer to our home and neighborhood. Spending so much time in our house has inspired us to work together to clean our kitchen and garage and turn our cluttered, underutilized landing area into a game room. Mid-June, our neighborhood organized a graduation parade to commemorate the 2020 grads in our neighborhood. Parents of the grads drove by all of our houses in cars decorated with bright signs and balloons as the graduates popped their heads out of the windows and waved. We stood outside our front door, shouting congratulations as the cars honked back. My next door neighbors and I waved zealously to one another, not having seen each other in months. I had never seen so many smiles. The stay-at-home order will eventually be lifted, but its impact on my family will persist. It has reminded my family and I of the love we have for one another, our home, and our neighborhood, and this feeling of connection will support us for the future ahead.
Submitted by Swetha Tummala, Santa Clara County – Saratoga.