After two and a half years of dodging COVID-19, I finally tested positive on Tuesday of last week.

In some ways, it was great timing — we didn’t have an issue of The Record coming out, so I didn’t have to scramble to have the paper ready over Zoom. In other ways, it was less great — I missed my senior Kick-Off, and I had a raging fever for about three days. Not fun. 

Of course, it wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things (thanks to vaccines). All I had to do was lug my belongings up to the third floor of Miller and stay there for five days. 

During this time, I found myself reverting back to the sources of comfort I had sought two years ago, when I was in quarantine two separate times in the month of October. Back then, quarantine was 14 days, which meant that I spent 28 total days of solitary confinement in Miller. And the thing that I turned to back then, in order to fill my days and occupy my time, was art — music, books, movies, poetry. I think that art is often viewed as an extraneous field when it is the thing that we turn to most when life becomes difficult. What would any of us have done without art throughout the entirety of this global pandemic? 

So during my five days of isolation this past week, I revisited the art forms that I have felt removed from since beginning the semester — those things that I forget to make time for when life gets busy, but that I look to for comfort in times of need. 

I listened to music. I went back and listened to playlists that I had made years ago, or to playlists that friends had made for me, reconnecting with songs that I had once loved but not heard in years. I also worked myself into a superiority complex over how much my music taste has improved since then. 

I watched a lot of art, too — comfort movies. My two friends who had also tested positive watched with me, and we agonized over the will-they-won’t-they of “When Harry Met Sally” and the loud fashion of “Clueless.”

Kickoff was another source of art and entertainment during my isolation period. The event wasn’t livestreamed, but my friend Greta and I dressed up, ordered pizza and watched each of the acts through the lens of her sister’s phone via Facetime. The audio cut out multiple times, and apparently our microphone wasn’t muted for the beginning of the show, but it was still perfect.

Even the tiny inspirational quote on a throat comfort tea bag stood out to me as an expression of art and a much-needed reassurance: “The universe is within you. Bright and beautiful.” 

I also discovered several new poems in isolation, one of which I’m including below. If your week has been full of homework and meetings, I hope that you can take time to pause and read this poem — to breathe and enjoy art amidst the chaos.

“Love After Love” by Derek Walcott 

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.