Academics

Quarantine Interests and Hobbies

Elise Gresham '24
Elise Gresham '24 writes about home life during the pandemic in the spring edition of Steward Ink.
When the stay-at-home orders began back in March 2020, I was ready to discover new genres of music, take a deep dive into iconic artists and bands, and find connections in new music. People who’ve known me for a long time know that I’ve always loved music. It’s my favorite form of expression. However, I realized during quarantine that I had only really listened to musical theatre and pop, and guilt surrounding my invariant palate drove me to try new genres. Since the beginning of quarantine, I’ve added singer-songwriter, indie, rap, jazz, classical, folk, grunge, rock, and even some country to my repertoire. It's especially amusing to think about how at the beginning of quarantine I was making fun of my parents’ taste and now I’m listening to their top artists and bands. It seriously made me wonder though, how many people out there discovered something new over quarantine? So, I asked some of my friends and teachers if they had started a new activity or hobby over quarantine, and their responses were surprising.

Rally Costen '24 was the first person I interviewed, since he’s been one of my closest friends since 7th grade. Now, Rally and I have never had the friendship where we have a never-ending list of interests and topics to talk about. Rally’s favorite subject is math, whereas I definitely prefer English. Our taste in movies, TV shows, and music couldn’t be more different. In fact, it’s probably for the best that we’re not in the same room together when talking about our favorite and least favorite movies, TV shows, and music. That's why I initially was surprised and delighted to find that he had stepped out of his comfort zone to enjoy new music too. However, I was confused and disappointed to discover what his “expansion of music” meant.

“I wanted to expand upon my music taste and have been listening to ‘The Lorax’ soundtrack,” Rally said. “I know it’s an odd choice, but I have listened to it multiple times and have memorized almost all the songs and am proud of it.” As he was telling me this, I was so curious to know what his appeal was to such a specific soundtrack. Why had “The Lorax” made his time in quarantine enjoyable?

“Well, at the beginning of quarantine I watched ‘The Lorax,' and then I listened to the soundtrack,” Rally said. “I just thought there were so many good tunes. I downloaded it and listened to it on repeat for like three hours every day. The music is fun and it made me want to get up and dance each time I heard it.” Although I would never listen to “The Lorax” soundtrack in my free time, I understand the stimulation, enthusiasm, and thrill that comes with listening to a new album for the first time. Finding good music is like the equivalent of making a new friend.

I talked to another friend who seemed to be benefitting from the thrill of a new hobby. Zoë Macgill '22 added new houseplants to her initially small collection over quarantine.

“I have taken in a lot more house plants since quarantine started,” Zoë said. “I had one at the beginning of quarantine and now I have eight. I just love taking care of them, and it brings me so much serotonin.”
Zoë also mentions that social media had a huge influence on her decision to take care of plants in the first place. She wanted to create a similar model to the rooms she’d see on platforms such as Instagram.

“I saw some pictures on Instagram of other people who have lots of plants in their houses, and it looked so gorgeous,” Zoë said. “I wanted to replicate that. I started moving plants in my house into my room, so I could be the one responsible for them. I also began asking for plants as gifts, and my grandma gave me more. It kind of just spiraled into this big obsession.”

In addition to Zoë Macgill, I found a teacher who has also found joy in decorating and caring for nature. I talked to Mr. Serr, Upper School math teacher, about his newfound joy in rock gardening.

“Well, I had the circle of rocks that I'd gotten from Morefield Mines around 15 years ago around one tree,” Mr. Serr said. “What I ended up doing is sprucing it up. I put lava rocks in between the rocks and then put some mulch here and there. So that was kind of a project around the house. That's one thing I probably wouldn't have done if it wasn't for COVID, because I had such time on my hands.”

I next talked to Mrs. Freed, Upper School curriculum dean, to see how quarantine treated her and her family.
“During quarantine, I started cooking with my daughters,” Mrs. Freed said. “It was so fun to be able to teach them, see their joy in successfully completing a recipe on their own, and hand over the reins...errrr...spatula to the girls so that I could have a break! The Freeds will definitely continue to cook together!”

The next person I interviewed, Mrs. Householder — an Upper School science teacher — definitely had a reaction worth mentioning, although she didn’t exactly try a new hobby over quarantine.

“I wish I had a new hobby, but I wasted my time watching 'Schitt's Creek,'” Mrs. Householder laughed. “That got me through. Yeah. I should have picked up a hobby, but I didn't. I mean I exercised a lot. That's good. Though that’s something I would have done anyway. I don't know if I did something that I wouldn't have done. Just watched 'Schitt’s Creek' and exercised I guess.”

Lastly, I talked to Mr. Gallo, another Upper School science teacher. Mr. Gallo had a completely different outlook on my question, finding deeper meaning behind what time spent in quarantine meant for him and his family.

“Over quarantine, I started spending a lot more time with my family,” Mr. Gallo said. “I think it sort of made me realize, I know this sounds weird, but I like them. I want to do a better job of spending more time with them consistently. Even once this is all over, I think I still want to spend an appreciable amount of my free time with my family. Just whatever we're doing, puzzles or video games or watching TV. I just like the extra time.”

It was pleasing to find that so many people had some sort of outlet during times of hardship, loss, and desolation. Whether it was music, taking care of plants, decorating, watching a favorite TV show, exercising, or spending time with family, people found ways to carry on with their lives and make the best out of a tiresome situation. It wouldn’t even matter if nobody changed their hobbies, because what does matter is a human's ability to persevere in spite of their given circumstances.

(To read the rest of the student writing featured in the Spring 2021 issue, visit Steward Ink.)
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