I experienced two lockdowns: one in China and one in the U.S. I went back to Wuhan, my hometown, on January 1st, and came back to New York, where I currently live, at the end of March. Crazily, I happened to be at two epicenters at their peak. During the whole Pandemic, I felt like riding a broken roller coaster. I was anxious and paranoid, trying to calm down but couldn’t help worrying, until I was exhausted and hopeless enough to say, “whatever, I’m just going to enjoy my ride now.” 

Cafe After Dawn: Poems

Cafe After Dawn: Poems

Let’s start with the first lockdown. When I landed in Wuhan on January 1st, I saw local news that some kind of pneumonia is going on, while the face masks were quickly sold out in a local store near my home. My friend told me that the pharmaceutical stocks are rising, an essential indicator for a public health crisis. I was confused. After a 22 hours flight from JFK to Wuhan, I was like, “no way, I’m back for the Chinese New Year.” After two days, local news told people to calm down, stating minimal human to human transmission. I put my heart into the stomach and started visiting family, friends, grandparents, and traveling around until Wuhan was shut down on January 23rd. I left Wuhan for Beijing two days before its shutdown, and when I heard about the Wuhan shut down, I felt like in a surreal movie. My friends who have met me in Beijing started to be panic. They texted me to ask whether I felt sick. A fear that everyone from Wuhan was contracted the virus intensified. I felt like a zombie. People even started criticizing ones that “escaped” from Wuhan. “Escape” wasn’t my intention. I just happened to be in Beijing before the shutdown. At that time, the testing kit wasn’t available anywhere in the world, and there is no way I could know if I have contracted the virus in Wuhan or not. I self-quarantined in my apartment alone in Beijing, reading a book and worrying about whether I had a virus and whether I passed it to my friends. There were both fear and guilt. Meanwhile, news about another person from Wuhan drove at midnight to other cities spread around. I sensed a strong sentiment of regionalism. In Beijing, even if you have a car with a license plate from Wuhan, people will report you. I wouldn’t lie. The ethos of fear, desperation, mistrust was suffocating me.

I was sad to realize that humans are still helpless in front of the invisible virus despite the development of technology and modern science. I was also sad to see that people started to find others to blame for instead of taking care of each other in a crisis. The same story happened in New York. Gladly, I have never contracted the virus and stayed healthy. When I was back in New York in March, many Asians started wearing masks, and of course, I was one of them. I knew how serious it was in China, and I had to protect myself in order to protect others in our community. Then, news about Asians wearing masks was hit in a subway station, followed by a big discussion on whether wearing a mask was necessary. I was sad. I was exhausted. My friends even made fun of me by saying: “wherever you go is the epicenter of the pandemic.” I worried about my friends and grandparents in Wuhan while worrying about the situation in New York every single day. Before the New York lockdown, I went to buy groceries, and interestingly, paper towels and toilet paper were run out first. People were obviously panicing. I already experienced lockdown in China once. I told myself that I will be fine as long as I take the necessary protection measures. One good thing about the lockdown experience in New York is that I stay with my boyfriend. We adopted two baby cats together. We wanted to save lives while having another comfort. 

I also started writing a novel. Usually, I write poetry only, but I had so many complicated feelings during the lockdown and felt the urge to write down a long story discussing life, death, love, friendship, or existence. I appreciate life more, especially considering that I survived the virus so far when I had thousands of chances to be exposed to the virus. I heard from some friends that they have friends or relatives passed. My condolences. I think the biggest goal in 2020 is nothing but to be alive. I still have faith in humanity. I believe that it takes time to root out the systematic biases in society, but it is good that Pandemic revealed these problems in a more obvious way to make people reflect. New York seems to have another lockdown soon. Hope New Yorkers or anyone suffering from the Pandemic can overcome the new wave. Be kind to each other, and let’s heal together.

RELATED: How I spent lockdown by Suzie Tullett, author of Holly's Christmas Countdown

Well what a year 2020 has been. Thanks to Covid-19, we’ve all suffered upheavals and many of us have experienced losses. Although it’s just like me to make matters even more complicated by moving to a new country at the start of a pandemic. Yes, my husband and I could have waited. However, having accepted an offer on our then-home back in November 2019, come March of this year the last thing we wanted was to lose the sale altogether, leaving us with little choice but to finalise things and get on with it. So, packing up regardless and determined to hold on to all the confidence we could muster under the circumstances, we boarded a ferry and set off on our new adventure... to read more click HERE 

Tagged in