Locals Reflect on the Past Year of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

It has been one year since the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic took the world by storm. From worldwide quarantining to over 500,000 American lives lost to thousand of small-businesses closing, it has undeniably been an unprecedented, heartbreaking, and very unsettling year. Everyone was affected by it in their own way, but collectively, the pandemic has forced us to completely switch gears and redefine the “norm.” We asked our readers + team how they are reflecting on this past year and if there was anything positive that came out of quarantine — or if they learned anything about themselves in the midst of all of the tragedy that occurred this past year. Read to see what Hoboken and Jersey City residents had to say while reflecting on the last 12 months.

Jennifer Tripucka

jennifer tripucka hoboken girl founder

JT: The silver lining was that working from home I was able to spend more QT with my husband and dogs. My older pup Pierre was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend more time with him even with his heartbreaking diagnosis — which the pandemic has allowed me to do in many ways. We’re literally together 24/7. <3


Brook Nuzie

Brook Nuzie

BN: The world shut down a week and a half before my 30th birthday. Now that I’m a week and a half away from 31, it’s not just a cliche this year to say what wild trip-around-the sun it has been. I started working remotely with a 10-month-old, and I now have a full-blown toddler with another tiny lady on the way. The huge silver lining of the year for me was getting to spend more time with my family. When I was commuting every day, I only got to see my daughter for half an hour a day Monday – Friday. Working from home, I get to see her, my dog, and my husband so much more than ever before. And the shocking part is, I’m still not tired of any of them yet!


Lauren Wilson-Policke

Lauren Wilson-Policke

LWP: In addition to all of the quality time I had at home with my husband this year, my silver lining of this pandemic is that it pushed me to spend more time outdoors, try new things and make new memories. I’m not much of a camper or an outdoorsy type as I typically prefer to be at the beach, but when traveling abroad wasn’t an option this summer, we chose to spend some weekends hiking, camping, and exploring in the wilderness. It made me appreciate all the beauty and nature that our area has to offer. And, now that I’m a ‘camping pro’, we rented a camper van and are taking a road trip out west – probably something I wouldn’t have had thought about doing pre-pandemic.


Alexa Martin

AM: For me, the silver linings were not only being able to spend ample amounts of time with my fiancé and family but learning to be grateful for and make even the seemingly insignificant moments in life something to look forward to and celebrate. No one was having big celebrations during the height of the pandemic and it made things we’d normally take for granted such as taking a walk outside midday when the weather was beautiful {something I’d never be able to do while at work teaching} feel like something to celebrate. Now that I’m getting married in July, I’m so grateful that restrictions are being lifted and vaccines are becoming more prominent and I almost feel more appreciative of this event than I ever would have been before the pandemic.

Read More: Ashley Barron: Hoboken Native, Softball Star, + Hoboken Firefighter

Kim Schu

Kim Schu

For me the biggest lesson I took out of the pandemic is that in life there is nothing more important and special than the loved ones you surround yourself with. Life is short, and clearly unpredictable, so being able to see those important people that much more really is a gift in the midst of all the chaos. Exactly one year ago when my work went fully remote I went into 24/7 quarantine mode with my boyfriend of four months in his Hoboken apartment. By summer we were inseparable and I found myself choosing to not renew my lease and have lived here full time ever since. Truthfully I don’t think I would have gotten through the darkest days of the pandemic without his love, support, laughter, and companionship. He encourages me to constantly work towards my best self and is likely the reason I had the courage to apply for an internal recruiting role at an incredible agency I believed was out of my league. Here I am one year later with the best roommate and job I could have dreamed of, and honestly, sometimes I don’t even know how I got so lucky.


Jenny Schecher

JS: So much has changed over the course of this year, and it feels that our brains have been re-wired to this new normal that the pandemic has brought to the world. As I reflect on what I learned over this span of time, the word that sticks out to me is gratitude. I learned that the health of myself and my loved ones is not something to overlook, but instead, it is a blessing to never take for granted. I learned the power of compassion and felt this more than ever, towards the people suffering from sickness, and grief, and especially the front-line workers who selflessly give of themselves to help those in need. I learned the power of positivity, and how important it is to wake up and choose happiness, instead of negativity, every day, even when some days feel harder than others. I learned how hard it is to grieve the loss of someone special who was taken too young, and because of this, how important it is to take care of my mental health. I learned that quarantining with my boyfriend 24/7 was actually pretty great, it allowed us to slow down and appreciate the simple moments with each other, and we will always have the memory of that confusing, scary time, binding us together. I learned that jeans are very overrated and wondered constantly why I ever wore them, to begin with. Most importantly, I learned how life is short, and love is the only light that shines through dark times, so it is crucial to always keep that light on.


Erica Commisso

EC: I learned that it’s okay to take time to NOT be productive. We don’t have to spend every minute of our lives working or doing this to achieve a goal. It’s okay to take time to be with yourself, relax and reset. 


Yiwei Gu

YG: I refuse to think of the pandemic as having any “silver lining”. It’s simply bad. No “silver lining” can justify the losses. However, the past year does make me reflect upon the fragility of things we used to take for granted. Borders can be shut down overnight. Businesses go under. Marriages and friendships disintegrate. What I’ve learned, more than “cherishing what you have”, is to find out among many so-called valuable things we feel obliged to love what I truly love. I had known that travel and discovery were important to my life, but I’ve realized that they are essential to who I am. It has been a difficult year to travel but the quilt of border restrictions has directed me to parts of the world that I wouldn’t have thought of visiting. I have continued to learn new things, and am constantly reminded of my own prejudices and ignorance. Despite the craziness and loneliness of our time, I believe in more than ever the value of keeping an open mind and not coming to conclusions hastily, if at all. It’s a wonderful world out there that’s worth exploring, after all.


Joelle Hernandez

Joelle Hernandez

JH: This year, through its uncertainty, fear, loss, and doubt,  I was truly able to experience gratitude for the things and people I have in my life. Despite experiencing the loss of family and friends, I feel that I was connected to family and friends more this year than ever! We played games on the House Party App, made up our own Zoom games, streamed shows and movies at the same time, made and ordered the same dinners, and more. We made fun times out of difficulties and for that, I am forever grateful!

See More: The Life of Longtime Hoboken Resident, Michael Johnson

Lia Peralta

LP: A year after the pandemic began, I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. Whether it’s your health, family and friends, a roof over your head, or job security, nothing is for certain. I’ve learned to appreciate life’s simple pleasures like taking a breath of fresh air. The first time I left my apartment other than to go to the grocery store, I stuck my head out of the car window to feel the wind in my hair. I sat on a lawn barefoot and nearly cried. I’ve learned that human interaction is so important. I miss giving hugs, going to music festivals, even being in a crowded bar. I did learn how to cook and even though I have Zoom fatigue, I don’t regret scheduling lots of video calls with people I hadn’t spoken to in a while. An acquaintance posted on Facebook the other day that when something reminds you of someone, you should tell them. That’s the most valuable lesson from this experience – to always check in on people because they’re the most precious thing.


Deanna Vollmer

Deanna Vollmer

DV: If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself the past year it’s that slowing down, enjoying the simpler things & staying grounded is a beautiful thing. It’s OK to not be OK and it’s perfectly normal to feel sad. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with my family, especially my grandmother, Rosie as I did. I had more wonton soup with her {She loves Chinese food!} in 90-degree weather last summer than I’ve had in my lifetime!! Sadly she passed away in January but those memories made will stay in my heart forever.


Claudia Langsner

Claudia Langsner

CL: As with many other people a year ago I was furloughed from the hospitality industry. I found myself at home not knowing how to occupy my time and fulfill the inherent desire to interact and help people. And then I found a Hoboken Girl post about the Hoboken Food Pantry needing volunteers. I signed up and I can truly say that decision changed my life. I started to volunteer with the Pantry, helping to make bags of food and distributing them for residents that were facing food insecurity in these tough times.  Ever since that first food distribution, I saw how generous and humble people are as well as how people can collaborate to lend a helping hand. I have created lifelong bonds with the people I have met and am truly thankful. I learned that no matter what I am facing I have to focus and value what I do have since others may not be as lucky. I learned to cherish time with my parents as that is not infinite. And lastly, I learned the value of community. This community stepped up when it was truly needed and to this day I am grateful.


Nicole Gittleman

Nicole Gittleman

Oddly enough, I learned to put myself first this year. While the world felt like it was burning down (and really was, at times), it was so hard to find reasons to be positive. While we talk a lot about the physical pains of COVID-19, the effects it had on the mental health of many was devastating, too. It was for me. On top of everything going on in the world, my job was a major source of frustration and unhappiness. 2020 was the year I decided to forge my own path and become my own boss. I don’t know if this would have happened, had it been any other year.


Yarleen Hernandez

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve experienced a whirlwind of emotions at every stage. From the initial fear and uncertainty when it first began to losing my sister in April, learning how to grieve and find healing while trying to stay safe myself, and finally finding some sort of peace when vaccines were made available. This past year has taught me so much, especially that the most valuable things in life aren’t material – they’re love and kindness. Life is short and should be appreciated every day. One silver lining I’ve found is reassurance on how important it is to follow my dreams, and above all, making sure loved ones know how we feel about them.

 

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.