Breaking The Distance


Jillian Casey, Staff Writer

After a month of staying inside, I finally decided to make a trip to the grocery store two days ago. I pulled into the parking lot, strategizing the quickest way to get in and out with everything I need.

Once I parked, I started to notice a line forming outside of the automatic

sliding doors. I thought “OK, so I have to wait a few minutes to go in.”

As I walked through the parking lot, I realized the line of what I thought was a few people were actually wrapped around the shopping complex.

Everyone’s faces were covered, overly cautious of their surroundings, making sure there were at least 6 feet of distance in front and behind them. I was not at all prepared for this new reality. I realized that tensions were heightened, but I wasn’t expecting to have to wait outside the store for an hour.

Once inside, the situation was even worse. I’m not sure how many people were actually allowed in the store, but it couldn’t have been more than 20 people at a time. Some shoppers were afraid to even go as far as sharing aisles with other people.

I felt really scared, and like being there was wrong. I was so overwhelmed that I made a mad dash for essentials and got out as soon as I could. The entire trip made me realize how serious social distancing has become. I knew things were bad, but reading about it all online isn’t the same as experiencing it first-hand. It was ominous and scary, and I could tell nobody wanted to be there. But we were all trying to navigate this new normal to the best of our abilities.

I’ve been reaching out to my friends constantly, checking in to make sure everyone is doing all right. I often find myself particularly concerned about my boyfriend who lives in New York which has been deemed “ground zero” for coronavirus cases. Hearing his stories makes me realize that there is a difference in how people are handling this pandemic.

I told him about my trip to the grocery store and how heavily enforced distancing and glove and mask-wearing is in

Jersey. New York is doing their best but how easy is it to tell a city of people used to being on top of each other to stay apart?

“The stores are packed and the lines at checkout are long, not all stores and supermarkets are regulating distancing like they seem to be in Jersey,” he said.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from traveling back and forth to and from the city so much is that it, in many ways, feels like a different world.

He also said “Sure it’s quieter, but people are still out and about. You can’t just keep everyone locked inside.”

I realized that this is true for both New York as well as New Jersey.

The catch is when I want to get some fresh air I can walk around my neighborhood or drive to the park without coming into contact with anyone. In the city, people don’t have the same luxury.

I’ve also noticed there are two sides to the spectrum. Some people seem to be fine with staying put, and others are itching to get out. While texting my friend Sarah about my departure for the grocery store a few days ago, she said “You could not pay me to go out right now.” I realized that for as much as I was scared to go out, I was happy to have a reason to feel like a functioning member of society. Like most, I realize that things aren’t going to change anytime soon, but I like to think the new normal will start feeling a little less scary for everyone sometime soon