Social Distancing with the Hometown Crowd

Social Distancing with the Hometown Crowd

Before Prime Minister Trudeau had finished his press conference asking Canadians abroad to return home, my mother called to make a similar request of me. 

“In light of communications from Queen’s and the federal and provincial government, it became pretty clear that my role in this movement is to stay home, and wash my hands, until further notice.”

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic was gradually building across the country, until it was decided that serious action was needed, and still is, to curb the spread of the virus. In light of communications from Queen’s and the federal and provincial government, it became pretty clear that my role in this movement is to stay home, and wash my hands, until further notice.

After a few more phone calls, I was given a couple of days to pack up my apartment and move back into my parents’ house in the suburbs north of Toronto. My mother picked me up in Kingston and we listened to the radio for the entire ride back. Where we’d normally take a rest stop in Trenton to grab a coffee at Tim Horton’s and stretch our legs, I watched the local landmark fly by through the passenger seat window. 

When I first arrived home, I was asked to stay in the car. My father met me in the driveway with a bathrobe and asked me to put it on, leave all my clothes in the garage, and take a hot shower—to prevent the spread of germs from my Kingston apartment into the house. He called it the “COVID robe” and he wasn’t joking. 

Since then, it’s been an adjustment to live in my childhood bedroom, crammed in with all of the belongings I brought home with me. To make things easier, my parents told me they’re treating my bedroom as though it’s my apartment—it’s mine to inhabit like I want. However, I was later informed that I’m actually not allowed to burn candles in my room, or eat popcorn in bed. 

Moreover, my parents’ home phone is configured to both announce and read out every text message my mother receives on her cellphone. I’m suddenly privy to the inner workings of her social circle—a thrilling source of entertainment that latest approximately an afternoon before it began to feel more like a personal attack every time her phone buzzes. 

Which brings me to the next point of adjustment that’s occurred since returning home: I’ve taken up cursing as a hobby, purely for the necessity of expressing frustration about this whole experience. 

“As a responsible citizen, I haven’t left my parents’ house since I arrived—with the exception of a few solo jogs around the neighbourhood, still keeping a healthy 2-metres between myself and other joggers.”

As a responsible citizen, I haven’t left my parents’ house since I arrived—with the exception of a few solo jogs around the neighbourhood, still keeping a healthy 2-metres between myself and other joggers. I’m learning that, while some of the preparation for social distancing involves stocking up on pasta and canned beans, a good chunk of the work is mental. It’s important to find joy within this unexpected and unwanted change to my living situation.

Social distancing won’t last forever, but it’s absolutely necessary that we all partake in it right now.


Please check out the Government of Canada’s website for more information about COVID-19 in Canada, what to do as a traveller returning home, or how to wash your hands. For students seeking information about academic protocol for remote learning, you can visit Queen’s University’s COVID-19 website and browse the updated list of support resources that remain available at this time.


Header Image Source: Claudia rupnik
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