Coming of age during the coronavirus

“How come I can’t hear you very well, Chris?” asked my 73-year-old grandmother on FaceTime while she’s quarantined in her Reseda apartment.

I responded, “Grandma, we’re on FaceTime. You’re not supposed to hold the phone up to your ear.”

For most family celebrations, my grandparents and older half-sister would come to our family’s house and party with us. Unfortunately, the coronavirus halted that tradition from happening this year on what would be my 21st birthday. For me and the other 358,095 people around the world that turned legal on March 20, COVID-19 changed what it meant to come of age.

The original plan was to have a large group of family and friends meet up in Las Vegas and hit up all the bars, clubs and restaurants we could, but now everything is closed because of the pandemic.

With similar closures happening in Los Angeles County, we were forced to cancel the celebration, but that was the least of my worries.

While under normal circumstances I would be attempting to cure a hangover in a Vegas hotel room, I am now more concerned about the health and safety of my grandparents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

My grandparents and sister on FaceTime so they can see me blow out my birthday candles while we are all quarantined. (caption of video)

To ensure their safety, I did all their grocery shopping for whatever they needed so they won’t have to risk getting sick. On my birthday, I made sure that they stayed home, hence why I called them on FaceTime so they could still sing “Happy Birthday” to me.

Other than missing out on my Sin City celebration, the pandemic has affected multiple aspects of my life.

My hours have been temporarily cut because I work as a manager at a restaurant and since we’re only doing takeout orders, my presence is not needed at all times. I am still being paid to operate their social media, but that’s only a portion of what I usually make.

I was depending on my accumulation of birthday money to bolster my bank account, but COVID-19 had other plans. By entering a period of little to no pay, it will be challenging to manage, but it also helps me teach myself about budgeting and saving money.

I am also concerned about the fact that I applied to many summer photojournalism internships and that if the pandemic does not slow down before summer, I may not have the opportunity to intern somewhere I can get valuable job experience.

I received an email from National Public Radio about the status of my internship application and they said due to the coronavirus, they will no longer be offering their 2020 summer internship program.

All the internships I applied for are out of state as well. If I do get accepted to any of them and the country’s situation does not get better, who knows if I will be allowed to travel from state-to-state by that time.

My gym is also temporarily closed, which takes up a large portion of my life. Since we are all quarantined and facilities are shut down, my family decided to use this time together to convert our garage into a home gym.

Building a home gym not only benefits us now while we are stuck at home with nothing to do, but in the future as well because we’ll no longer have to pay for a gym membership.

It was a collective family effort. We spent two weeks cleaning out the garage, laying down floor mats, and putting together work out machines.

Our home gym consists of a bench press station, a cable machine, a heavyweight punching bag and a pull up bar. We left the middle of the gym empty so we can do some sparring for cardio.
My brother and I have been heavily involved in martial arts our whole lives, so our vision was to recreate a UFC gym on a smaller scale.

Rather than turning my garage into a club for my 21st birthday, we ended up putting the finishing touches on our garage home gym. We spent the whole day disinfecting the entire space and then immediately after, I had a sparring match with my brother.

This birthday gift will keep me busy during quarantine.

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