Drew Smith, of Rutland, talks about self-isolation and how the pandemic has affected his life.
How are you handling self-isolation?I’m doing OK, although it has been really strange. In the beginning, there was not a stark difference because I am not required to physically go into work every day. However, nights and weekends have been very odd. My wife’s best friend escaped New York City more than two months ago and moved in with us through the pandemic, and it has been really great to have her around for emotional support for both of us.
What has been the biggest challenge for you?The lack of in-person social activities. Typically, I have my nights and weekends scheduled back to back with community events, travel, going out to eat with friends or having people over to our house. Essentially overnight, all of my plans for the next several months were just canceled. It was a very bizarre feeling to look at a “blank” calendar and not know what to do. It has really forced me to get creative to fill the time: We’ve been scheduling lots of Zoom calls with friends from home, social-distance dog walking with friends, creating our own at home cooking shows, and stepping up my game on finishing the backlog of house projects.
What has been the most pleasant surprise?The creativity that has come from forced virtual hangouts. It really hit me during our virtual Passover Seders in April. First, the hilarity of watching my grandmother and family members trying to figure out how to Zoom was a blessing on its own. But it was incredible to be able to share in a tradition with friends and family during this time of isolation and crisis. Other creative virtual hangouts have included: seltzer tastings, game nights, around the world parties, award ceremonies and much more.
How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?Social distancing is going to be with us for a long time. Even at work, I have to remind myself every Monday when I forgot how far 6 feet is after the weekend. But it is the new normal. I am going to continue to be very conscious about what I’m touching, how far away I am from others, and think through what activities I can do that don’t run a risk of unnecessary close contact. Also, I’m more convinced than ever that my wife and I can always keep ourselves entertained with absolutely nothing to do.
And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?We don’t have to be busy all of the time. Slowing down and taking time for yourself and family is incredible for recharging the batteries and creating a sense of calm.
It doesn’t have to take a global pandemic to stay in close connection with distant friends and family. We are all now reminded about how technology can keep us close together, even in the good times.
The community around you is more powerful than you think. It’s been so amazing to see how many people are willing to pitch in and help out those around them, regardless of what they’re going through.
Learning silly internet dances (Tik Tok) is much easier than you realize, and a hilarious way to pass the time.
Correction: We mistakenly identified Jessica Van Orman as the U-32 athletic director last week. That title falls to her husband, Hank. We regret the error.