The stay-at-home order reminds me a lot of when I was in Afghanistan. We got through it then, and we’ll get through it now.

The novel coronavirus has decimated our daily lives and almost every state is under a lock-down order for citizens to stay at home. As an extreme extrovert, I find energy and enjoyment through interactions with people, so I knew limited my outside contact would be difficult, but after a few weeks, I’ve gotten in to a rhythm and have found that this stay-at-home order has many similarities to my time in Afghanistan in 2008.

Back then, I was posted to Bagram Air Base, northeast of the capital Kabul. Life was restricted. I never left the base, and rarely left the small camp in which I slept, worked, and relaxed in a variety of Conex containers converted into our bunks and office space. I exercised in a near by gym adjacent to our camp, and the only time I did leave was to get something to eat.

I started work early in the morning and continued throughout the day, taking meal breaks, and an afternoon respite to exercise and shower. In the evenings, I watched television or a movie or read a book. Life was quite simple. I worked, ate, exercised, slept, and relaxed (a little) for the 65 days I was there. In Afghanistan, I kept in touch with family and friends via a communal laptop. We didn’t have Wi-Fi back then, and iPads, tablets, etc., didn’t exist. There was no Skype or FaceTime, but I emailed and made plenty of phone calls.

Almost 12 years later, I find myself doing the almost the same thing.

My family lives in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Arlington, Virginia. My wife and I sleep in our bedroom and relax in our living room. I work from home, posted up at a small desk in our sunroom. I eat in our dining room and participate in livestreamed yoga classes on my living room floor. The only time we leave is to take our daughter for a walk or to go to the grocery store.

I start work early, taking breaks throughout the day to eat my meals, play with my daughter, and exercise. I generally work later than I normally would have because I don’t have to commute and don’t have much else better to do. At night, we might watch a documentary or play a board game or video chat with friends and family. I’ve grown accustomed to this new life, just as I did in Afghanistan, which admittedly is difficult for me because I’m an extrovert who thrives on interactions with people.

It sucks, but yes, I know it doesn’t suck as much as other peoples’ situations. I don’t have the virus and I haven’t lost my job. I understand people have it a lot worse than I do. This is just my situation and how I am reminded of how I have done something similar in the past.

I got into a rhythm back then, just like I have done now. I got through it then. We all got through it back then. And we’ll get through this now. It’s just going to take more time.

Until this is all over, remember that this situation sucks for everyone and it probably sucks a lot worse for a lot more people than you. Be kind to one another. Help each other out. Donate to causes that need them. Be smart. Smart inside. Keep your distance. Follow the experts’ guidance. We’ll get through this.

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