Sarah Todd Hammer ’24 (she/her)
I haven’t been to a grocery store in over a year. And for some reason, now that I’ve received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, going to one is something I’m looking forward to most. Currently, I’m making a list of all the things I’ve missed out on that I want to do once I reach full immunity. After not going anywhere for over a year, activities so simple and even mundane seem so exciting to me now. A trip to Harris Teeter? The much-loved grocery store I’ve never gotten to go to because of the pandemic? But of course!
As a disabled person who is at higher risk of complications from COVID-19, getting through the pandemic has been a challenge. It isn’t always easy to make the right decision when it comes to staying home and social distancing. And many people in my position have been confronted with undesirable choices. Turning down invites from friends to restaurants and shops enables us to reduce our risk of exposure, but it isn’t desirable to watch your friends have fun while you miss out.
The pandemic has worn on us all. But, I feel it’s definitely worn on some of us more than others. Those like me who are at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19 — and those who might not be at higher risk but choose to watch out for others — are the perfect examples. From the beginning, I’ve taken the pandemic seriously; as a disabled person, I really was left with no other choice. Since March 9, 2020, I’ve only ventured out to my grandma’s house on a few occasions, and I’ve been to Davidson. But once I’m on campus, I don’t leave. That’s why after receiving my second vaccine, getting to break out of my bubble and go across the street to pick up a pizza from Mandolino’s is so exciting for me. I don’t think the excitement felt from doing something ‘normal’ after so long can be matched by anything else.
Going to get vaccinated was an experience in and of itself. Fortunately, I was able to share the experience with two of my closest friends. We all drove to the Walgreens just down the street and got vaccinated together. And four weeks after the first vaccine dose, we did it all again. (Except we made sure to stop by Krispy Kreme to pick up our free donuts!)
Afterwards, driving back to campus with music blasting in the car, I couldn’t help but think about how I’ll always remember this moment. In my first year of college, I took part in a historical moment of an already historical pandemic. I experienced many iconic moments of the pandemic with my two greatest friends, all of us there for one another. Moments like these will stay forever ingrained in my mind; they’ll be the ones I share with my grandchildren when I’m older.
The pandemic has somehow managed to bring us all closer together in the strangest of ways while working its hardest to keep us apart. Before all this began, I never could have imagined that getting a vaccine with my friends would be such a monumental moment in my life. But it was; I know I’ll remember the experience forever. Experiencing such a historical moment made me emotional.
Even through all the frustration and isolation, I’ve had some of the greatest experiences. I’ve grown closer with some of my friends through Zoom calls and FaceTimes; I’ve made wonderful friends here at Davidson, many of whom I’m sure I’ll maintain contact with for the rest of my life. Many of us have tried to be there for one another even more during this time, which has allowed us to grow closer even hundreds of miles apart.
But being vaccinated offers me hope — hope that I can begin to live a somewhat more normal life, hope that I can see and hug my friends and family again, and hope that the fall semester will offer the Davidson community the opportunity to be as normal as possible once again.
Sarah Todd Hammer is a first year intended Psychology major from Atlanta, Georgia. She can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.