-Life in Limbo: Quarantine Edition-

April 30 2020 Aisling Casey 5th Year

Did you know that if you stuck a pole through the middle of the Earth (core and all), in Cork, it would land just off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand? That’s where I’m supposed to be. Not Dunedin exactly, but in Auckland, NZ.

This week was supposed to be my first week at my new school, learning the Cambridge International AS Level material for Literature in English, Pure Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. But here we are, in the sixth week in lockdown, with no end in sight. At the beginning of lockdown, I was optimistic that I was going to be able to move over to NZ and start my new school, and my new life. I had ordered the books and started working simultaneously on my Fifth Year work and my AS Level work.

Mairangi Bay Cosatal Walk

I hate watching the news. It might sound ignorant, but there is so much “bad news” at the moment (let alone fake news), it’s all too much. So, I decided to bury myself in schoolwork (spoiler alert, it doesn’t work). I’d wake up around 8am and be at my desk working by 8:30. I’d allow an hour-ish for lunch, and I wouldn’t stop working until 7. I thought that by being productive with my schoolwork, I’d feel like I was doing the right thing. It was all well and good, right until I got shingles.

For those who think shingles is just for old people (I thought the same), it’s a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. I had the chickenpox in kindergarten (I actually missed my first week of kindergarten for it). I think fate enjoys playing tricks on me. The virus stays dormant in the base of the spine and usually does nothing. That is, unless you have a weakened immune system, or you are in great stress. I didn’t notice what I thought were hives for a few days, mindlessly scratching them, while trying to figure out Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”. It wasn’t until I talked to my Mum about it, that I thought it might be something more. We booked an appointment at the doctor, and sure enough, it was shingles. Shingles are basically your body’s way of saying “take a break!”, but in a really mean and painful way.

The blisters hurt, and when I say hurt, it felt like a hot pan was pressing against your side 24/7. And so, I “took a break”. I got proper sleep and proceeded to catch up on Netflix shows (I’m currently watching Gossip Girl for the second time). They had seemed to be healing properly, and I was feeling a little more grounded. Then, my Mum had to tell me something.

While I was steering clear of the news, New Zealand closed off its borders, and they weren’t processing visas. I have New Zealand citizenship, along with my Mum and sister, but my Dad doesn’t. There was no chance of us moving over anytime soon. It’s now been predicted that international travel will be extremely limited for the near future. I had to make my peace that the move was no longer happening. It took a while, as my mind was already in Mairangi Bay. Once I made my peace with it and started telling people about it, I was worried. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a fraud, or not want me to stay.

In fact, it was the complete opposite. All of my friends were ecstatic that I was staying and even held a virtual Zoom party for my birthday.

Although my daily walk could’ve been the 8km coastal walk on Mairangi Bay, it’s a walk with my two dogs, Deefer and Toby, down to the roundabout and back, and that’s not too bad 🙂

My daily walk with Deefer and Toby