It seems that I’m never able to have a normal birthday, and this year was no exception. Something always seems to go astray on my big day, whether I can control it or not. Leading up to birth-anniversary this year, I contemplated all the ways the day could go wrong, but I wasn’t expecting this.
The week started off with what I thought was a sinus infection; I get them all the time. Headache, congestion, fatigue- the works. I thought nothing of it, but of course my overly cautious family, still scared by my grandfather's passing from covid-19 insisted that I get tested. T minus two days until my birthday I got lined up in my car to take a drive through test. I was to get both a rapid test and the one they send away to the lab. Within a few hours I received my phone call letting me know my rapid came back negative and let out a sigh of relief knowing my birthday would be spared this year, but boy was I wrong.
I woke up the morning of the eleventh with a smile on my face and extra bounce in my step. This would be my year to have the kind of birthday I always hoped I would. I would get to eat cannolis and see my boyfriend who I hadn’t been allowed to see since Michigan shut down again a few weeks prior. I walked into the kitchen to see both my older sister and my niece there to congratulate me on my 19th trip around the sun. After visiting and sharing a few laughs I retreated to my room to work on some magazine business. As I typed out an email my phone rang with a call from an unknown number. The caller revealed my lab test had come back positive.
As tears streamed down my face I slammed my bedroom door and called my mom. “I’m positive,” I said, and immediately my house went into a panic. Masks flew onto faces and siblings retreated to their rooms. Thus began our quarantine. Although I had been feeling alright earlier, my symptoms began to intensify. My head pounded, my nose ran and my body ached. Although I couldn’t do much otherwise, I felt as though I could barely get out of my bed. With my birthday dinner plans cancelled, my family opted to doordash our meal. After almost an hour of searching for an option that accommodated my vegetarian diet and my siblings picky appetites we decided on chipotle. After barely making a dent my burrito, we opted for store bought cookie dough and before they were even ready I was fast asleep.
I woke up the next morning and ate my birthday cookie and was greeted with more aggressive symptoms than before. I felt so guilty. My mind spun with all of the possibilities. I could have given it to my family or my coworkers and thinking about it just made me cry. My family all scheduled their tests and I spent the next two days in total isolation. Trying to combat my boredom, I went out to my car to just drive around and listen to music to calm myself down. I put my key in the ignition, and of course with my luck, it didn’t start. I pounded on the steering wheel and tried and tried with no insuccess. My life seemed to be falling to pieces and I couldn’t help but cry, which unsurprisingly made all my sinus symptoms worse.
Slowly but surely my mother and siblings began to exhibit symptoms of their own. As the test results came back, we soon knew that everyone in the house except for my younger sister was positive as well. Although some of us had less symptoms than others, we all suffered together. There were a lot of symptoms I experienced that I didn’t expect based on what I had read. My sinuses were inflamed and angry, spreading excruciating pain down to my jaw and giving me an especially nasty ear infection. Most of all I was tired. So, so tired. My mom faced breathing troubles and fever and my brother experienced taste loss, but I seemed to not present with any of the usual symptoms.
The hardest part of it all was having to stay in my room. Before I used to take refuge in my room; it was my happy place, but now I would rather be anywhere else. I missed my boyfriend and much to my surprise I missed work. Being out for so long, I missed out on about $400 that I would usually make. This wouldn’t normally be much of a problem, but I had just paid for my winter semester of college in full and spent lots on christmas presents for my loved ones. With all of this stress about money, worrying about having to fix the problems with my car just made it all worse. I couldn’t even assess what was wrong, let alone plan for how much it would be and how I would pay for it. I realise that I’m lucky. That a lot of people had it a lot worse than I did, but damn did it suck. I think the most important lesson I’ve learned this year is that 2020 has sucked for everyone, in different ways of course, but it just sucked for the whole world.
Tomorrow will be the last day of my quarantine. I am so beyond ready to get back out into the world and resume life as “normal.” Although I will be able to return to work, the rest of my family will be staying in isolation until at least Christmas. With our holiday plans wrecked, we are trying our best to create the yuletide magic alone. There is one thing I know for sure though, we’ve all gotten closer from this experience and we are so incredibly lucky things didn’t get any worse. Happy holidays Velvet Fields community, I am wishing you all health and happiness as we ring in the new year.