When Quarantine Came

      The Adventure That Remade Me

  Alexander McNab

APRIL 1, 2021 |  DestinFlorida.com scholarship essay  

          When quarantine came, I thought that surely the adventures would have to end or wait at least as we all had been waiting – mostly motionless and largely alone. I grew fat, grew isolated, and I experienced a stagnation such as I had never felt before. I never knew that stillness could be so soul-crushing.

          My bedroom became a basement – a crypt, that particular sort of basement where dead people lie waiting for eternity, and there I was – a corpse. Lying, waiting.

          As everything skidded dangerously to a sudden, unsteady halt, only my mind was still left humming with activity. I thought back to my ancient days, 2020 B.C. (before covid), and I remembered that distant era when adventure and I were one – food adventures, biking adventures, birthday adventures.

          There was a blissful timelessness to it all. Yes, back in 2020 B.C., Mondays were still Mondays, and deadlines were still due, and stress greased the tracks of the chaotic locomotion of an active life, but even when life hurt, it was a purposeful pain like that of building muscle or sprouting teeth or giving birth. They were growing pains, life pains, but when covid came, all I could feel was death.

          A year passed, and with it came one, then two, then three vaccines shooting us up with hope, but being neither essential nor vulnerable, I remained in my morbid repose. Lying, waiting.

          Around that same time though, as the essentials and the elderlies walked with renewed vigor assured by their vaccine-induced invincibility against the virus, I experienced a resurrection of my own.

          After all of that quarantine, I had successfully protected my body from illness. Yet, my spirit was quickly decomposing under the strain of staying at home.

          I decided it was time to get up. It was time to get out.

          Jesus rose early Sunday morning. I emerged from my cave on a Saturday, eight a.m., with a mask on my face and a helmet on my head. I met my cousin out front, and we were off, pedaling away from all of our pandemic problems.

   Alexander McNab

          Before covid, it had been six years since I’d truly lived in Los Angeles. I’d left home for college and left the country for work. It was only the threat of this illness that brought me back to L.A. I arrived the very day that quarantine was announced in California. I first heard the mayor utter the now worn-out phrase “safer at home” while on the car ride from LAX back to my childhood home.

          Biking to the beach, to downtown, and then back to South-Central, where I live, I relearned my city at the same time that I became reacquainted with adventure.

          Though my cousin and I now bike every Saturday, I still quarantine six days out of the week. I use that time to reflect on what this past year has meant.

          For most of this year, I believed this all to be wasted time, a dip of death wedged into the middle of my life. Now though, I see that, in fact, there was a purpose to all of this pain because, without it, I may never have understood just how close to home adventure can be.

   Alexander McNab

          I have secured my plans for the fall. The leaves will die, and I will begin my life’s next big adventure, but this time, I will not be out of the country. I will not even be out of my city. I will be at U.S.C., a mere five miles from home, and that’s alright with me.

          Quarantine is a chrysalis. Finally, growth.