Pandemic-iversary: Revisiting the Iconic Quirks of Early Quarantine


March 11, 2020.

It was an average Wednesday at school suddenly turned into a panicked and yet excited frenzy. In the morning until the final bell, students couldn't stop chattering about the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) had just pronounced the COVID-19 outbreak a full-fledged pandemic.

This was going to be great, we said. We made jokes and sort of looked forward to experiencing this strange global phenomenon since we thought it would only last for two or three weeks.

If only we could turn back time and tell our past selves that a year later, we are still stuck in a pandemic.

To commemorate one year of enduring this peculiar and often frustrating situation, I wanted to take a more lighthearted approach and reminisce about our early quarantine days. There are some things, whether trends or in the world of pop culture, that will we think about and immediately prescribe to our epoch trapped indoors.

By no means through this article is my goal to disregard the severity of the beginning of the pandemic. The uncertainty of everything was scary, the economy slumped, and human connection when it would be the most comforting was unavailable.

I understand these troubles. Heck, I lived through them. But, even amid the struggle, we can still look on the bright side and fondly remember the classic quirks, memories, and fads of quarantine that made us laugh or gave us enjoyment in those trying times.

1. Family walks

Before lockdown, I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a “family walk” around the neighborhood. But during those spring months, we rounded up everyone, including the dog, and did these strolls every. Single. Day.

I know I’m not alone here.

It was amusing to see people on social media poking fun at their own family walks, as it was the go-to activity when bored, but I think deep down, we appreciated those calm moments with our parents and siblings, even if being stuck with them 24/7 was driving us crazy.

2. Hair experimentation

Pink hair, purple hair, blue hair, neon hair. We took our scissors and spontaneously chopped off our long locks or gave ourselves bangs. The bravest of us went with a bold buzz cut.

For many, being wildly creative with our hair signaled a newfound confidence. “Who cares?” we thought. We were locked inside all day, so even if our endeavors at a new do took a turn for the worse, no one would see it anyway.

3. Outer Banks and Tiger King

Remember the TikToks with “Left Hand Free” by alt-J playing in the background? Kook this, Pogue that. And we cannot forget the heated debate of whether Pope, JJ, or John B. was cuter.

I can’t even explain it, but the vibes of Outer Banks were simply immaculate. Even though quarantine would last into June and July, the series still made me super pumped for summer.

I vividly recall the hype over Tiger King, but I never watched it. My knowledge of the show's content consists of the words "Carole Baskin," "dead husband," "mullets," "tigers," and "Florida."

4. Empty shelves

I don’t think I’d necessarily label rows and rows of empty shelves at the supermarkets as a “good memory,” but it was definitely an iconic memory associated with early lockdown.

In grocery stores, bread, pasta, and soup isles were practically deserts.

And who would’ve thought — in the 21st century — that America would have a toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipe crisis?

It was a weird and sometimes almost laughable conundrum we faced because it was so unbelievable. I still can’t fathom that verbal and physical fights among shoppers erupted over toilet paper.

5. "Supalonely," "Say So," and "Savage" were our theme songs

The trinity of quarantine bops, “Supalonely” by Benee, “Say So” by Doja Cat, and “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, highlighted our quarantine days.

The TikTok For You page was bombarded with these tracks playing over and over and over, but we weren’t mad about it. They produced an insane, unexplainable serotonin boost, which was much needed in self-isolation.

6. Bread-making and whipped coffee

Honestly, why — of all things — did bread-making become popular in a pandemic? Like, I’m here for it, but how did this develop into a trend?

I don’t know if this is just me, but it seemed like out of nowhere, society collectively decided that quarantine was the perfect time to attempt crafting homemade loaves of bread. And society did just that.

On TikTok, not only was bread-making huge, but tutorials for how to concoct whipped coffee exploded all over the app, too. The drink was one of the most aesthetically pleasing beverages I’d ever seen.

7. Remote AP exams

With nationwide virtual school, one of the immediate questions that arose was how to conduct the AP exams.

Many students, myself included, felt that the disconnect from the classroom environment and from the teacher would prove disadvantageous for our preparation for the tests. Anxiety heightened, and it didn’t help that the exams would be shortened in content and in time.

Let us recall the absolute technology atrocity that occurred while test-taking, as well. Some students couldn’t submit their exams on the College Board website and time ran out, forcing them to wait until June and try again.

Now, we’ll look on the brighter side as I promised. With what, you may ask?

Fairy comments. (Insert flagitious chuckle.)

It brought me joy to scroll through College Board’s Instagram account and see teenagers across the country leave passive aggressive, sarcastic messages with fairy, rainbow, unicorn, heart, and sparkle emojis on College Board's posts to get back at the company for the frustration and inconvenience it caused among many students. The comments were clever and hilarious.

So, on some level, the AP exam fiasco in spring was entertaining and certainly unforgettable.

Adjusting to a new normal in the beginning of the pandemic was not easy, but I’m glad there were some memories about it that we can look back on warmly.

Rachel Lichtenwalner
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Rachel is a high school junior in Atlanta, Georgia and is the managing editor of her school's paper. In addition to journalism, she enjoys writing in calligraphy, playing ukulele, reading Shakespeare plays, green tea ice cream, and geeking out to Star Wars.