It’s hard to believe that just two months ago, I was visiting my beloved hometown, NYC. My partner took me to see a show, “Come From Away” about a little town in Canada that rallied to help all the stranded passengers that had to seek shelter there while their planes were grounded during the 9/11 crisis. The story was incredibly uplifting, and without minimizing the pain we all felt back then, highlighted the collective power we have as humans to rally in order to surpass the most trying times. Who knew I would need that message now more than ever to help get through each new day as this COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage our world?

New York City, which in the past couple of weeks has seen over 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, is now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., and the last place on Earth I would want to be right now. Never in a million years would I think I could ever utter those words, and my heart goes out to everyone there, not just my friends. The images on the news of empty streets juxtaposed with overrun hospitals are heart-breaking, and sadly we all know the worse is yet to come as we begin week 3 of the shelter in place mandate, with at least 4 more weeks to go.

Here in the DC Area, which has been my home the past 25 years, our numbers are somewhat more promising, but we know that we need to remain vigilant if we want to minimize the spread of this virus. So for many weeks (maybe months) to come it appears our mobility and ability to socialize in person will remain quite limited.

Never as an American citizen did I believe I would endure real limitations on freedom, something I think we all just took for granted here. Rations, curfews, and crazy lines at stores (beyond Black Friday sales) are a shock to all of us that grew up in the U.S. And, what makes this shelter in place mandate so particularly difficult is there is no clear end date to this madness.

So, as this new norm sinks in what do I miss most? Living for decades with seemingly unlimited choices and freedom of movement. Perhaps we took it all too far, and this crisis is meant as a reminder that we should never take our basic necessities and liberties here for granted.

17 years from now, maybe there will be another Broadway musical about surviving this whole coronavirus experience, and perhaps I will be fortunate enough to return home to NY to see it. One thing is for sure, I will never take the ability to do that for granted ever again.

By Regina A. DeMeo