Navigating a new job, new town, COVID-19

Former Barton Publications reporter Carlie Porterfield left Texas to study international journalism at City, University of London, where she interned for Forbes magazine. She now works in New York City as a news reporter for Forbes.

When I moved to New York City at the end of April, I was nervous about a lot of things – starting a new job, finding a place to call home and making friends in a monster of a city. A pandemic wasn’t something I was particularly worried about until several weeks ago. Suddenly, I’m living in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

I’m coming from a position of privilege, as a healthy person in my 20s with health insurance and no underlying medical conditions; if I were to become infected with coronavirus, I would most likely survive. But the stress from being alone in a strange new city, quarantined in a small apartment and unsure of what will happen next has left me anxious. I’ve had to talk myself out of buying an $18 flight home several times. I don’t want to risk the chance that I’m carrying the virus and could take it to my family.

Sometimes I feel like my life is at a standstill – the plans I’d made for the big city have been put on hold until I can safely leave my apartment. I’m impatient and frustrated at not being able to continue down the timeline I had pictured. By a few months into living in New York, I had hoped to have made a few friends or gone out on a date. New York City had seen 26,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as of late Friday, and the city’s death toll was 450. My imaginary deadlines are insignificant when I look at the bigger picture.

It’s put things into perspective for me – I’m healthy and have loving friends and family, even
if they’re thousands of miles away. I love my new neighborhood, though I haven’t gotten to experience much of it yet. But the woman who works at the laundromat across the street always has a kind word for me, and a man on the subway gave me one of his disinfecting wipes so I could clean my seat. People look out for me here – and by staying home and self-quarantining until health officials say it’s safe, I hope I am doing the same

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