Today’s post is actually a project I’ve been working on for quite some time now, and I’m really excited for it to finally be ready to share with you all. Over the last few months, I’ve used whatever time I’ve spent outside to document how Covid-19 has affected my local community and downtown Vancouver. These photos span over months, and capture everything I’ve seen — the positive, the scary, the wholesome and everything in between.
This moment in our lives, however we may feel about it, will likely be history. Nothing like this has ever happened to the world, and with any luck, nothing like it will ever happen again. We live in a time where documenting and sharing information has never been easier, and as such, I wanted to encapsulate my personal experience with Covid-19 and how it impacted my little slice of the world.
The other side of this project is creating a collective of similar projects from people across the world. If you, or someone you know, has created a similar project for your own city, I would love for you to share it with me to be added to the collection. Whether you documented your experiences through photos, videos, words, or art — and no matter what platform you’ve shared it on — if you send me a link to it, I will link it at the bottom of this post to create an anthology of sorts, encapsulating how Covid-19 impacted cities all around the world. One last thing that’s important to note — I will not be linking any projects without the creator’s permission, so please only share other’s posts with me if you have talked to them about it first. As well, if for whatever reason your post was shared with me without your permission, I’ll take it down — no questions asked.
If you have a project that you’d like to share, please DM me the link via Instagram or Twitter, and I’ll link it to this post right away! Thank you in advance to everyone who participates — this project has been a few months in the making, so it would mean the world to me to have it impact others and become fully realized.
Along with these photos capturing Vancouver’s new normal, I figured I’d share a little bit about how Covid-19 impacted my life. I’m going to preface all this with a note that I did not really feel any direct impacts, and I did not lose anyone to the virus directly. I can only speak on how lockdowns and stay at home orders affected my life — and all in all I’m pretty lucky. My thoughts and prayers go out to any of you who’ve lost someone to the virus, and if you ever want to chat my DMs are open.
I first heard about Covid-19 when I came down with a truly brutal case of the flu back at the end of January. My life had been so hectic with my job and school that for the first time in a long while, I neglected to get my flu shot — something I sorely regret and a mistake I will never make again. I had to take over a week off of school and work and was completely bedridden until my symptoms subsided (however, residual symptoms such as exhaustion persisted for weeks following). During this time, the novel Coronavirus in Wuhan was just starting to hit the news. I followed it a little out of morbid curiosity — in my mind, it wasn’t a big deal at all and frankly it didn’t even sound that bad.
Over the month of February, I witnessed more and more people begin to “overreact” about this virus that hadn’t yet reached Canada that (and yes, unfortunately, I was one of these people) was essentially just the flu. People discussing online how they weren’t going to show up to work, or no longer wanting packages they ordered that were shipping from China — it was definitely all a little overboard, but as someone who severely underestimated what was coming, I really can’t judge.
While I may not have experienced any losses from Covid-19 directly, I’ve experienced many other losses this year. On February 29th, one of my closest friends passed away. My life, as I knew it, changed forever. I hadn’t dealt with death much in my life — the last time someone I cared about passed away, I was eight years old. And then one day, all of a sudden, one of my best friends was just gone. I would never be able to talk to her, or see her face, or hear her laugh ever again — and there was nothing I could ever do to change that. She was only 21. I don’t really want to discuss any more than that here — it’s all very personal to me, and is something I’m still learning to cope with. The point of it all is just to share how my life was kind of completely thrown into turmoil at the beginning of March. Restrictions were not put into place before her funeral, luckily, but in the time in between I didn’t really pay attention to the news or the world around me — I was consumed with grief, as well as trying to be there for my friends who were also coping with the loss.
Lockdowns began happening just a few days following the funeral. I, honestly, didn’t even have a clue what was going on. Everything was changing so quickly — the weekend before lockdowns people showed up at the bar I worked at dressed up for the Rugby Sevens tournament as “Coronavirus Drinking Teams” and it was still something people would find humorous. That weekend at work was one of the craziest I had ever worked — lines out the door, the bar hitting full capacity, and many of the most intoxicated customers I had ever witnessed. It’s so crazy, thinking back, that within a week of that weekend how everything changed. At the time, we never would have known.
With everything going on in my life, I was extra oblivious to everything else going on in the world. It wasn’t until the day before things began to lockdown that I realized what was happening. That next day, I awoke in a panic — there was so many rumours and falsehoods circulating about what was happening in Vancouver. I rushed out of my apartment with my giant grocery cart, feeling like I was in some kind of race against the clock to grab all the essentials. I was so overwhelmed and confused I didn’t even go to the grocery store — I did a full grocery run of non-perishable foods and supplies at my local Shoppers Drug Mart. Maybe it was a little crazy, but in the last 24 hours the rug had been pulled out from under my feet — I had no idea what was going on. Rumours of full quarantine, closures of all stores and more were swirling around the whole country, and just a day prior the one and only thing I was concerned about was dealing with the grief of my loss. It honestly kinda gave me mental whiplash.
Everything, around that point, began happening so fast. Following the Sevens, sports got shutdown pretty quickly — and all of my work shifts for the following week were cut (it was a sports bar, after all). Only a few days after that, I was laid off. My roommate got pulled from a school trip in New Orleans and had to quarantine for two weeks. My other roommate was told to work from home on account of us living with someone who had been travelling. Stores and restaurants across the city shut down, and restrictions were put in place for socializing in public outdoor spaces — all within a few days.
At first, it all seemed to me to be a blessing in disguise — I had my exam to prep for, which was just about a month away. I had put off studying while coping with my grief, but this exam was the only thing that stood between me and my degree and it was crucial that I pass the class. I had taken enough time off that I really wasn’t even close with my studying to where I wanted to be — but now I had endless time to do my readings and study my notes.
The following month was honestly one of the most challenging I’d ever been through. My exam became a constant source of anxiety and studying for it was honestly all I did for a whole month. I mean I literally studied 8+ hours a day, and I rarely took a day off. The state of the world also caused me a huge amount of stress, and the dramatic change in my lifestyle and being stuck inside all day took a toll on my mental health. I took a little hiatus from blogging to cope with it all (as you all probably already know). I was really struggling to keep up with everything in my life when things, once again, took a turn for the worse.
Back at the beginning of April, two weeks before my exam, my grandma ended up passing away. Not Covid-19 related, but still impacted by it — in Toronto (as with all of Canada), full lockdowns were in action. This meant, sadly, that there couldn’t be a funeral at the time. I wasn’t able to fly home to be with my family and didn’t ever really have a chance to even process what happened. I still wasn’t even close to having dealt with the loss of my friend — after this, I kind of just went numb. I doubled down on my studying, because the last thing I wanted to do was have anything else in my life go wrong. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with it, honestly. I just wanted my exam to be done.
Eventually, it happened. I wrote my exam, in my apartment, remotely proctored, which was stressful in itself — my apartment isn’t exactly quiet, my roommates were not allowed to enter the only communal room in my apartment, and over the 3 1/2 hours allotted for my exam there was so many things that had the potential to go wrong. Ultimately, it all ended up being okay — not only did I pass the class, I actually did really well. By now, my graduation application has been accepted and my time at UBC is officially 100% complete — but the month leading up to that exam, as well as waiting for my grades and my final graduation acceptance afterwards were some of the most stressful times in my life.
All I wanted the entire time leading up to my exam was for it to be done so I could have a break for the first time in over a year. However, when it finally happened, the reality of what was going on in the world finally set in. Not leaving the house, studying constantly and not socializing is kind of just how life during finals is — and honestly, when lockdowns started I was under the impression it was going to last for 2-3 weeks maximum. However, in the days and weeks that followed my exam, I realized that we were all really in it for the long haul. I had been dealing with so much that I really had no idea what was going on in the world — but it was really starting to hit me. As I started venturing out a little more for groceries and walks, I really started to see how Covid-19 was impacting the city around me — so I decided to start this project and document it all as best as I could.
With time, I’ve adjusted to this new normal. My anxiety is starting to go down as I actually take a break for the first time in a long, long while. I’ve been working on creating a good routine and new habits to hopefully keep up once this all is done. Slowly, I do believe I am learning to cope with the losses I’ve endured over the last two months. The weather is getting nicer, and restrictions in Vancouver are slowly being lifted. We have no way of predicting what the future may hold, but at this exact moment in time, things seem pretty okay.
While I always intended to share these pictures of how the city of Vancouver was impacted by Covid-19, I didn’t really know I was going to share my own personal story until I really started piecing this post together. Maybe it’s silly, or boring, and maybe no one will read it — but it’s MY story. We’ve all been impacted by Covid-19 in different ways. Some of us have gotten sick. Some of us have lost someone. Some of us have lost jobs, or opportunities. Some of us have had important events we were looking forward to cancelled. Some of us have been deemed essential workers. Some of us (myself included), lost our graduation ceremonies. Some of us have had serious repercussions of lockdowns impact our mental health, or finances. I could go on forever — no one has the same story about how these last few months have changed their lives, but there’s pretty much no one in the whole world who hasn’t felt the effects. So while this is still just one story — it’s my story, and it’s a part of history.
With time, if more of you chose to share your stories, photos, videos, or however you’ve documented the last few months with me, I’ll share them here below. In the meantime, I hope you’re all staying safe, and if you’ve made it this far I hope you enjoyed this post. This has all been a few months in the making for me — and probably one of the longest and most personal posts I’ve ever shared. Maybe no one will read this — or maybe one day it will become documented as important part of history. Realistically it’ll fall somewhere in between, but who knows. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that none of us truly know what the future holds.
#CommunityOverCovid Around The World
Share your stories with me, and I’ll share them here! This way we can archive personal stories and views of how Covid-19 impacted the world.
And now for some bonus pics! I had too many to share all in one post, so enjoy a couple more photos of a very empty downtown Vancouver! It’s so strange thinking back on it — it was almost like a ghost town, since the sidewalks and roads are usually packed. It’s cool having been able to document it, since the city has never looked like this before, and possibly never will again. Enjoy!