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LIFE AFTER: Quarantine

LIFE AFTER: Quarantine

Years after moving back from my apartment in SF (s/o 350 Arballo), my parent’s house remained filled with relics of the past 25 years of my life. Clothes I haven't seen in years, art pieces I never had the chance to hang up, old post-it notes from high school crushes, and a bunch of things that only held value in a sentimental form along with the entire inventory of Spiff Passé flooded our downstairs room.

I sacrificed having my own spot in favor of a creative space I could share with my homies and a car that would allow me to commute to all the places building Spiff would end up taking me. This meant that years after getting my teaching credentials, I was still sharing a room with my sister that was equally filled with crap.

I figured it was okay. My weeks are so filled with things I gotta do that I really just used my house as a place to sleep. But after meeting a girl like Priscilla, I quickly learned that I didn’t have to accept this fate; I had obligations that I committed my lifestyle to, but I also had the power to move on to something better without moving out just yet. 

I simply had to clean, organize, and let go.

I’ve only had my own room for three years of my existence. The majority of my childhood was spent sleeping on the same bed as my parents and sis or crashing on couches and futons found in sections meant to be used as storage. The entirety of my college experience consisted of sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with 5 of my best friends, and when that was over, I was back to existing in the same room I shared with my sister when we were toddlers.

This became my norm, making it hard for me to see the possibility or need for a different type of living.

Everything is different now though. 

I’m not as broke as I was in college.

I’m not coexisting with 11 other people in my house.

I’m not overly worried about where my life is headed or tripping over the same toxic relationship.

I’m not the same person anymore.

I could let go.

GET MOVING.

I was in the midst of planning the LIFE AFTER: Art show I was hosting with the homie, Sanaz aka the Sutro Footwear Legend, so you already know I had more on my plate than ever. But through countless trips to Ikea and HomeGoods, Priscilla put a vision in my head that I couldn’t shake and had to act on. 

She was adamant that converting the downstairs dump fest into the Spiff E Homebase would theoretically give me the motivation to work harder and enjoy my time spent at home instead of succumbing to the literal messy view anxiety would often create in my space.

Having my free time and attention divided between dropping new LIFE AFTER: gear for Spiff P., planning and taking part in an art show, teaching 5 classes of high school seniors, and renovating my room left me feeling overwhelmed as hell in the best way possible. My life was moving in an upward direction in all aspects for the first time in what must’ve been years.

Then COVID-19 came along and highkey ruined everything. 

AFTERMATH.

The pandemic was clearly getting worse by the day, affecting countless lives in ways the world seemed unsure what to make of. Questions of whether or not we should let a disease drastically alter the way we live flooded the minds of many at first, but it ultimately became the right call for us to keep our butts at home and do what we can to prevent things from getting worse. 

For me, this meant:

  • Making the call to postpone the art show I had spent the last 3 months working on.
      • Telling the 10+ artists I had gathered-
        • the good news: we’d have way more time to curate our art and produce the custom gear for the silent auction for charity.
        • the bad news: the show was canceled for now.
      • Informing everyone I invited that I had no idea when this dream of mine was going to happen anymore.
      • Ensuring that everyone knew this wasn’t the end.
  • Social distancing myself from friends that I was finally rekindling connections with.
  • Not seeing my girlfriend for who knows how long to ensure the safety of our families as best as we could.
  • Figuring out how the hell I was supposed to teach my 150 students through the internet.
  • And a bunch more that I’m sure y’all are dealing with as well.

SILVER LINING

On the bright side, the crucial demand for us in California (and everywhere else tbh) to be sheltered in place wiped off nearly my entire agenda, leaving me enough time to complete what my girlfriend made me start (aka the revival of space and comfort in my home. Enjoy this pic of the room after cleaning 1/5 of it lol). 

As a way to ignore the vast array of emotions I was feeling now that our lives hit the pause button, I sifted through countless storage boxes, aiming to rid my house of as much as I possibly could. The piles of treasured relics now labeled trash began to form, and I started to question why I held on to all this stuff for so long. 

  • “This shirt isn’t my style anymore… But I did wear it that one time I barely remember.”
  • “I haven't opened this journal since elementary school… But it was the first notebook I kinda sorta remember carrying around.”
  • “Me and this girl aren’t dating anymore… How long was this memory box hidden under my bed? LOL”

It instantly became clear to me that the objects I kept that I thought would grant me the ability to go back to a different time in my life were becoming both literal and metaphorical baggage in my house, preventing me from moving forward as the Charizard that I could be aka the true evolved version of myself.

CLEAN SLATE

When I was younger, I was one of those angsty teens that understood how fleeting a moment was. Cheesier than some nachos; I know. 

But let me make my point.

I always grasped that things could not stay the same as badly as I wanted them to, so I held on to the tees, cards, toys, journals, and more that would give me the illusion that nothing has changed. These things that I promised would make me feel like I could turn back the clock to the moments that I’d rather be living in acted as the safety net I needed to fight my dark reality in the past, but now that I appreciated the current lifestyle I’ve adopted, what was keeping these items in storage really doing for me?

As a youngin it made complete sense to hold on to all of these physical representations of memories.  But as I was deciding what I needed to let go, I realized that my romanticization of these moments from the past was leading to a misunderstanding of what mattered to me most. My love for my life’s history and the nostalgia it carried with it was put too high up on a pedestal, overshadowing the importance of both my present and my future being.

In short, I kept thinking that for me to be happy, I needed to go back to these moments rather than using my past to become that stage 3 evolution of myself. You see, holding on to these relics didn’t feel like the wrong thing to do at first; in fact, there was nothing wrong with holding on to them at all. 

But the instant it became noticeably tough for my house to experience any change in its structure.

The second the nostalgia for how things used to be prevented me from progressing into the person I knew I could be.

It was time to move on.

It was time to let go of my old version of happiness in favor of the belief that things could change in a manner that didn’t leave me looking in my past for a puzzle piece that wasn’t going to fit anyway.

So that’s what I did. I let go of these objects taking up space but held on to what the experiences they represented taught me. In the process, my entire house is a lot cleaner to look at, my sister and I ended up getting our own rooms, and my mom can stop giving me the side-eye every time she looks at what used to be the downstairs dumpster.

THE POINT.

When I think about the state the world is currently in because of COVID-19, I can understand the desire to wish things would go back to “normal” for the sake of the hardworking communities hit toughest during this pandemic. Now that our new reality is settling in and many are (ideally) recognizing the gravity of the situation, we’d likely be satisfied with a return to our old ways. That said, it is for those individuals and families that we must take the initiative to ensure that we come out of this predicament different. 

We can’t let our nostalgia of “how things used to be” trick us into thinking that life pre-"shelter in place" was all that better; there was still much wrong with how society was run and how we treated one another during that era. 

Now that we’ve been forced to reset and evaluate,  it is our responsibility to explore what matters most to us and take action in protecting what we find important to create a new standard of how we treat ourselves and those around us in this life that we are lucky to be sharing. 

I’m not asking you to do the impossible; I’m asking everyone as a collective to not let this time we must spend at home go to waste.

It’s up to you to determine how you do that.

EPILOGUE:

Life after these next few months is sure to be different. At this point, it should be clear that the efforts we put in now will determine what that means for us. We could view this as a pause in life where nothing seemed to move in a positive direction for a few months, or we can take this time to come out of a terrible situation stronger than before. 

There's nothing wrong with getting things back to the way they used to be, but there’s something beautiful in the hope that life doesn't necessarily need to be its former self for us to find the happiness that seems to slip out of our grasp every time our mind questions whether we have it.

In that sense, my current anxieties have calmed thanks to the understanding that I should just be grateful for what I have because even with how wild and seemingly uncontrollable these last few weeks have been, each day’s objective has been allowed to stay the same for me-- I’m still here trying to get me and those in my community to be better than we were yesterday.

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