Two Different Quarantines

The Grim Possibility of One Teenager’s “Healthy at Home”

Hi, my name is Ysa Leon. I am a senior at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky. And I am scared.

We’ve all seen the news these past few weeks, and our city is no exception to the growing pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 has shocked the world, including me, a teenager quarantined in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Quarantine looks a little different for me, though. My parents divorced when I was pretty young, and ever since my sister and I have split time equally between two houses. My dad lives in Louisville. My mom lives in Jeffersonville, Indiana, right across the river. It’s been a struggle, no doubt, but this outbreak is a whole new monster. 

It’s brought on so many questions. Should we change our schedule? What if one state goes on lockdown and we can’t see our other parent? Are we putting ourselves or others in danger just by going from one house to the other? (Note: Kentucky Governor Beshear established an interstate travel ban in late March, but court orders, like custody agreements, are cited as an exception.)

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, we’ve kept our schedule of two days on, two days off, split the weekends. But now we’re forced to reconsider our plans, and it’s really scary. How is a teenager supposed to choose between their parents? 

You would think my sister and I would’ve gotten used to it by now. After all, we’ve been packing up our things and essentially moving out of each house for years. It got a little harder in middle school, when we both had sports practices and theatre rehearsals and no ride to and from. Then the pendulum swung back a bit when I started driving. 

School helped, too. I pack my bags the night before, for my four classes on “red” days and other four on “white” days (Manual has a block schedule). I load up my car the next morning with my sister and carry on throughout my day, heading to the other house after lacrosse or an OTR meeting. 

Amid all of the back and forth, it’s hard to “keep a routine,” like everyone is suggesting. I exercise and I get outside and I balance my screen time, but what’s the point if it’s different every week? I go to one house and I have to factor in taking care of siblings, chores, and family time, whereas at the other house I take into account different chores, more solidarity, and a different dinner time. Everyone, from my school to my parents to my friends, is telling me to keep a routine when it feels impossible. 

It’s hard to see a solution, a silver lining. Should I just choose a house and betray the other half of my family? 

If your parents are divorced, I know what you’re going through. From day one, you’ve felt caught in the middle, forced to take a side when no one possibly could. I hear you, and it’s not your fault. I’ve dealt with the back and forth since elementary school. It gets easier, but never easy.

Now, as a senior, I’m giving up a lot — prom, lacrosse, senior walk, signing day, graduation, last moments with friends — and it’s hard not to throw a pity party. It feels like I’m sacrificing everything, and for what?

All of that is gone now. No school, no practice, no schedule to feel normal. Now I’m faced to deal with the harsh reality that I may not see one half of my family for an indefinite period of time.

But I can’t give in to negative thinking. There are people dying. Right now, in my city, and in yours, too. I know that whatever I’ve had to give up, you have, too. It’s worth it. We have to think of others, even when it feels like we’ve lost everything we know. 

So when I say I’m scared, I mean it. I want to be with my family and my friends. I want to be studying for AP exams and cramming for finals, picking out my prom dress and planning my graduation party. I want to see the other side. 

But none of us can until we all do our part. Please, stay home. Stay home for the elderly who can’t fight another disease. Stay home for the seniors who want to get their diploma in person.  Stay home for the kids who split time between two houses that need to see their mom or dad. Stay home for me, a senior quarantined in Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana.