Blog: The 6th month

Life has changed as shelter in place becomes routine

Tabitha Parent, Managing Editor

WEB EXCLUSIVE Today marks the sixth month of shelter in place for San Franciscans. I was watching a virtual college information session when I got a text from one of our EICs reminiscing about where we all had been as a staff six months ago. 

The text was a throwback to a live stream that we had watched where Mayor London Breed introduced the shelter-in-place order and the closing of all non-essential services. Now here we are, six months later, with more Zoom live streams under our belts than most of us can count, a pretty unwavering daily routine— and not a clue what will happen tomorrow.

When the school year ended in June, it seemed like there wasn’t much I could do or should do for that matter. Beaches looked dangerously crowded, friends were— depending on their social habits— potential COVID carriers, and restaurants and indoor activities remained closed. I stuck with a few people that I had been seeing since the beginning of shelter in place, but that was it. So no sandy shoes, no new week-long vacation-time friends made at Hawaiian hotels, and no trying new restaurants. 

This was fine for me. I’ve always been more content to mingle with the same people I know and love for the most part. So I thought I would have more time this summer with my usual activities canceled. I figured there would be time to work on my Common Application essay, attend some virtual college tours and do that summer reading we’d all been assigned. 

The days dragged on with a comfortable monotony, a routine I had settled into. Wakeup, run, see a friend or two for a socially distanced picnic, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep. Wakeup, repeat. 

 I had a birthday and turned 17 with a quiet little affair in my backyard. Not how I imagined becoming the Dancing Queen, but we can’t have it all, can we? I drove around a lot, ate lots of takeout food and ran almost every trail in the Presidio. I even worked at Convent & Stuart Hall’s summer camp and raced around all day with little kids who were arguably much better at wearing masks than most teenagers I know. All the while I was putting off the inevitable return to reality that would come with the start of school, whether it was going to be virtual or in-person

The thing about seemingly endless time is that it drags on and on until one day it just doesn’t anymore. Then you’re left with piles of reading, summer assignments and college work and no idea where to start on any of it. 

And then all of the sudden, we were back on Zoom with the whole of the senior class learning how to set up our Common Application and UC application accounts. I was saying goodbye to friends who were lucky enough to be starting college on campus, and I was scavenging around my room for school supplies because the prospect of Target shopping during a pandemic didn’t really sound as appealing as it had in years past. 

Our new block schedule meant that my first two classes flew by in a heartbeat, a 20-day heartbeat to be exact. And now I’m starting two new classes, working to get a semester’s worth of work done for each and keeping my grades in tip-top shape because, without the added boost of a standardized test for my college applications, I need everything I can take. 

I experience this new normal in one of two ways; everything either feels like it’s barreling towards me at the speed of light or that it’s swimming towards me up a stream made of molasses. When I look back to the summer and ahead to the future, I just see a blur. Pretty soon college decisions and summer plans are going to be on my doorstep,

and because of this time-altering pandemic, they’ll probably come knocking sooner than I expect. Endless shelter in place is a thing until one day it’s not. 

For now, as cliché as it sounds, I’m taking things a day at a time. Humans are easily adaptable creatures and I’ve gotten used to my routine. I can honestly say I’m a little afraid for when things start to open back up, and we can maybe go back to school. But taking every day at a time means that when these things do happen, they’ll just be another part of my day.