Jennifer, Bay County

Storyteller: Karissa Kowalski

Jennifer resides in Bay County, and is a 48 year old high school math and physics teacher. She had initially discovered about the presence of COVID in January, when it started to receive coverage among US media sources. This terrified her because the features of the potentially deadly disease left a lot of unanswered questions and apprehension. After schools were ordered to close on March 12, meaning her job was put on an abrupt hold, she decided she did not want to take any chances of spreading coronavirus. As a result, she imagined it was best to remain at home, away from her parents, who live in an assisted living apartment very near to her. However, since they are older, Jennifer knows that it is always a smart idea to quarantine for a couple weeks before she pays a visit to them, which she has been able to do, since high schools have been trying their best to keep infection rates at a minimum.

When the first onset of COVID struck the nation, she began to become stressed, because the world just seemed to have gone into what she had described as a “zombie apocalypse” but lacking the flesh-eating undead. People began to hoard toilet paper, sanitizer, and even some foods normally sold in abundance at grocery stores were hard to come by because of the shock and fear it instilled in the nation. On the bright side though, it did give her opportunity to spend quality time with her two kitties, who are probably happy they see their owner much more often now. On a sadder note, Jennifer’s life is nothing like it used to be. Prior to the global disaster, she used to be a busy person, who was always on the go. Fitness and staying in shape is important to her, so she would frequent the YMCA, train vigorously for marathons (such as the Iron-Man and the Ultra), go for runs and swims with friend groups, and she also liked to go to the salon to have her nails professionally done. She had also been planning to see her son and daughter before (who both are grown and live out of state), but unfortunately that did not occur either. Jennifer also noticed a bit of a change in her personality, as she used to be a lot more comfortable around large crowds of people, meaning she was once more outgoing and extroverted. The pandemic and being by herself most of the time drove her to be somewhat introverted.

It appears as there had been so much lost, and many of us contemplate on “what could have been,” and that regret seems to be ensued in many of us, by not doing or accomplishing things that could have been done. Nonetheless, people are creative and crafty in their ways of completing a task that seem to be difficult to do at the moment. While Jennifer has lost so much, she has also gained about an equal amount of aspects of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most notable skills she has obtained is that of using technology, as most people probably had never used or even heard of the word “Zoom” previously. Because of the pandemic, we hear it almost everyday, as with Zoom and other video chat services are almost a necessity with keeping people safe but still maintaining work requirements, friendships and connections. Jennifer also prefers to keep her house tidier now, since she’s spending so much more time inside it.

She hopes that one day in the near future, when students aren’t spaced eight feet apart in classrooms, with shields barring each side of their desks, that we can come back together unified and discuss our pandemic experiences with one another, and pray this never happens again so that all of humanity can live without fear. One thing she has accomplished and realized is that there’s a solution for everything, and that nothing is truly impossible, you just may have to compromise and do things differently. A great example of this is when Jennifer had biked 150 miles from Sanford to Cadillac, quoting this as one of her biggest completed goals during COVID-19. Her daughter has also found a new purpose too, as she has been virtually teaching Chinese children English since she has been off of work due to previous wedding planning. The pandemic has taught her patience, and that’s best to wait everything out so that the issue will run its course into an ideal transition back to the olden days, just like it is 2019 again.

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