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The Stories

G.E., 72, an Editor, English Instructor, and Poet in Orinda, CA

“We sat together in couples
patting each other’s shoulders as we passed,
leaned across the table listening, looking carefully,
taking each other in. Your absence is breaking me.
The descending darkness brings home the loss
of all your warm and present bodies, all your arms
that held me in the doorway and all the little ones
we carried to their beds. “

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A.M., 46, a School Secretary in Murrieta, CA

“The biggest challenge that I am now facing is the toil of children around the country not going to school. I believe that kids need to be going to school. The situation has been messing with my thoughts. I have heard terrible stories about the impact of a virtual school on students and their mental health. At the beginning of quarantine in March and April, the fear of the unknown was another hardship. The fear was paralyzing and I found myself crying a lot.”

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A.S., a teen in Hyderabad, Telangana, India

“I study in a college in Bangalore, India and got to know of the coronavirus scare
in early March…Fortunately I booked bus tickets and went home (to Hyderabad) immediately, a week before our country went into
lockdown. Some of my friends were not so lucky and were stuck in flats or PGs
near college and could not go home.”

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K., a teen in Israel

“In Hebrew it’s called בידוד…It started about 10 days ago. You’re only allowed to walk your dog and exercise 100 meters from your house.”

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T.L., a teen in Gesher Haziv, Israel

“I had a very good time in quarantine. I’ve played the computer all day, slept a lot and played guitar and piano. The only shortcoming for me was that I couldn’t meet my friends and play with my band.”

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V.S., a teen in Singapore

“I got the shock of my life when I found out that the senior pastor got infected with the coronavirus. Before I knew it, our church had become the largest cluster in the whole of Singapore. Having visited the church twice that week, I myself was worried that I could have been infected by the novel coronavirus.”

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C.P., a teen in Gisborne, New Zealand

“My mother works in the hospital and my father worked within the grocery store so we were always cautious about the way we did things. We talked at dinner about covid and all the crazy things it had people doing. We laughed about people wearing plastic bags or Stormtrooper masks (Starwars) when they went grocery shopping…The thought of covid was constantly on my mind, a stressor that was inescapable.”

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F.J., 19, a student in San Jose, CA

“It’s hard to believe I’m only 19 and this has only been 5 months into quarantine. If I was as old as I feel, I’d be a dry, bony fossil.
I don’t mean to discourage you, dear reader, because there have been silver linings in this shitty cloud.”

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E.G., 32, a graduate student in Palo Alto, CA

“I was 8 months into cancer treatment when the pandemic became a headline. Suddenly, everyone else started seeing the world as I did: as a minefield of germs, a series of public interactions requiring masks and hand sanitizer, a reason to take meetings online and have groceries delivered. Fun fact: a visit to the cancer center, in the midst of COVID-19, looks pretty much the same as it did 6 months ago…”

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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