Traveling & Inner Turmoil During COVID

by Alex

I wanted to bring joy during a global pandemic but I felt guilty while doing it. My cousin is my best friend, we have lived near each other all of her now 24 years of life. We spent most of those years in Delaware, doing many activities that won’t be possible because she moved to Colorado in January and the pandemic, of course. Her name is Kayla and her birthday was Sunday April 5th. We spent two hours on a Zoom birthday party for her, like most families this is the “new normal”. I dislike that phrase, by the way, the situation we’re facing as a global community is all but normal. That is for another journal entry though.

Surprise Reaction

Unbeknownst to Kayla, her new husband and I hatched a plan a few weeks prior to her birthday. I was going to fly from Philadelphia to Denver Colorado on Monday April 6th. I was overjoyed to find a roundtrip flight for $71, a third of the regular cost. The days leading up to my departure, I struggled over whether I should go or not, especially with family and friends asking “are you still going?”. I started to question myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing. Was the trip too risky? I would not have time to quarantine after I arrived, my visit was 5 days long. What about the guilt of breaking my quarantine when so many people are succumbing to this disease or fighting it on the front lines. I weighed the pros and cons. I knew that not many people were flying and thanks to my mom being OCD, I’m a professional at disinfecting pretty much anything (thanks mom!!). I weighed the pros and cons again and again. 

My flight left at 8:35 am from Philadelphia. I did not hit any traffic on I-95 during what would be rush hour on a Monday. I was the only person going through security, all of the TSA workers seemed extra nice, thank goodness because I’m not awake until 10 am. They understandably had to check under my face mask. I walked through an empty airport at 8:00 am and it was surreal. Instead of being happy no one was bumping into me, I missed the people. Airports are definitely #2 for people watching, right after Disney World. It’s always fun to wonder where people are going and why isn’t it?


Empty PHL Terminal

I walked through an empty terminal C to end up at an empty gate C29. I boarded the airplane, feeling like this is how celebrities must feel, and saw an almost empty aircraft. The flight had a total of 9 people on board, we were all wearing face masks and sat spread out. I was anxious during the flight because I’m human. I did not want to remove my face mask to drink or eat. Sleeping was my safest option, after everything was disinfected to my satisfaction. 

The trip from the airplane to ground pick up was when I saw the most people and something weird happened. A young man in front of me turned around and offered me some of his hand sanitizer without saying anything. I still don’t know why he did it but that small act really restored my faith in people. Acts of kindness like that one are what I’m going to remember long after this period in time becomes history.

After Brittin picked me up, I pulled pants over the ones I wore on the plane, put my hoodie in a plastic bag, and put Isopropyl alcohol on my hands for what seemed like the 50th time. I knew Kayla would freak out and hug me as soon as she saw me, making my trek across the country during a pandemic absolutely worth it. Brittin said to Kayla, “your birthday package is here” and the rest is history 🙂