Moving in the Time of COVID: A Journal
June 24, 2020
Today, we left for the Washington Dulles International Airport, my family’s first stop on our PCS to Camp Humphreys, South Korea. I, again, had to leave so many great people that I have come to know. While I was very sad, I was also looking forward to life at Camp Humphreys.
We had just left Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and were on the road, heading towards Dulles. Leaving everyone behind is easily the worst part about moving. I was in the car with my sisters and they were crying. So much for a quiet car ride. My parents decided to stop at this really neat taco place for dinner.
"Kiddos, masks on."
The restaurant was near empty due to the virus, the city around us was near silent. The door handles were coated in an anti-viral material to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There was also a hand sanitizer station by the door. We grabbed our food and ate it outside. As I ate my delicious tacos, I noticed how the people behaved around each other. They all wore masks and avoided each other as much as possible. After we ate, we got back on the road and headed to the hotel. The car ride was much quieter this time. We checked in and headed to our rooms, eager to get some rest. I fell asleep, replaying all my precious memories from Carlisle in my head.
June 25, 2020
I woke up feeling not very rested and still sad from leaving everyone the day before. Sad and tired is not a good combo. We packed our bags and hopped in a shuttle to the airport. The shuttle arrived and we all hustled out. The airport was a ghost town. The halls and gates that are usually teeming with people are now empty and quiet. That silence was quickly broken by the Brown family - six people and fourteen large bags of luggage. My siblings can be quite loud sometimes; their voices echoed off the walls of the silent airport. We made our way to the gate and checked in. My parents and the attendant's voices are the only sound in the dead airport. We quickly went through TSA because of the lack of people. The plane was only about half-full, and everyone was wearing masks (thankfully). The flight wasn’t very long, and we landed safely in Seattle. The expansive sky was filled with dark grey clouds (stereotypical Seattle weather). I actually quite like rain. We took another shuttle to the hotel and went up to our rooms. The flight made us weary and we rested for a while before dinner. I fell asleep thinking about what it would be like to live in South Korea.
June 26, 2020
I woke up feeling tired and unrested again. My brother was still asleep, so I went over to the girl's room; there was no way they were still sleeping. I was right, as they were awake. We spent most of the day relaxing and recovering again. I was finally able to talk to some close friends from Carlisle, which instantly made my day so much better. We went out for dinner at a place not far from the hotel. The restaurant was fairly empty, and the staff members were clad in protective gear. There were very few people out and about walking around on the streets of outer Seattle. We all retired to our rooms and got ready for bed. I quickly fell asleep without a thought on my mind.
June 27, 2020
I woke up feeling rather mediocre. The girls had regained some of their morning energy this time. We all ate breakfast and then chilled for a few hours. We then got in our rental car and drove to see good friends from our Okinawa days. My parents and their friends were very happy to see each other again. I knew their kids when I was much younger and I got to meet them again. They were all very nice and showed great hospitality. After dinner, we went for a long walk and looked into the bay. The setting sun reflected off the cold, blue water. It had been a long time since I was by water. The crisp, cool breeze of the bay was very refreshing. After the walk, we went back to the hotel and prepared to go to sleep. It was good to get away from the city and the chaos Coronavirus is causing. I fell asleep thinking about the beauty of the bay and the serenity of the forest.
June 28, 2020
I woke up pleasantly surprised about how rested I was. The rest of my family was already in the other room eating breakfast. After breakfast, we hopped in a rental car and headed towards downtown Seattle. As we were driving, we saw many people walking about. Some had masks and some did not. Few people were social distancing. We did some sightseeing around the city. It was a beautiful day; the sky was clear and the sun was shining. After that, we went back to the hotel. I fell asleep thinking about nothing in particular.
July 29, 2020
I was woken up by the sun streaming through the window. I felt rather mediocre again. Same soup as yesterday, just reheated. I am loudly greeted by the girls as they jump all over the place. Their energy in the morning is always unmatched. Unlike them, I am not a morning person at all. Today we were supposed to go to the lake with the friends we ate dinner with the night before. We got in the rental and drove over to their house. We met up and then we all proceed to the lake. The sun was bright and the water was cool. I was finally able to slightly improve my horrendous tan line. After spending a few relaxing hours at the lake, we said goodbye to our friends and went back to the hotel. That night, I ate Chick-fil-A for the last time. See you in two years, number one combo with extra pickles and lemonade. The whistling wind of the lake was replaced by the roar of car engines and the honking of horns. I fell asleep thinking of tomorrow's flight and my new life in South Korea.
July 30, 2020
It’s 1 a.m. in the morning. In typical Air Force fashion, we had to arrive seven hours before our flight. I was very tired. I slept horribly that night. We were all ready to head out in a matter of minutes. We took a shuttle to the airport to register for the flight. When we arrived, a large line had already formed. Surely, some of these people didn’t sleep at all. We made our way to the back and waited for our turn to register. Before we could do that, though, we had to get temperature checked and screened to see if when had any symptoms for COVID. None of us had any symptoms and our temperatures were fine. We finished registration and went to security. We passed that and found a place to wait the long six hours before the fight. My parents smartly remembered to bring sleeping pads for a moment like this. My siblings and I settled down to catch up on as much sleep as possible.
Sleep evaded me. The airport was silent and still. Nothing disturbed the silence except the occasional stirring on one of my siblings. Eventually, I popped in my earbuds to listen to some calming music to ease my mind and help me sleep, yet sleep evaded me still. Then it was time, and we picked up our things and went to the gate. At the gate, we saw most of the people who were in line with us. I hope they were not as tired as they all looked. Eventually, the flight attendants called our name, and we boarded the plane. I was exhausted. After everyone was boarded, the attendants went through the safety orientation and the plane took off. Our flight to South Korea had begun.
I was determined to fall asleep and eventually I did. I was awoken by an attendant asking if I wanted a drink. I said yes and took a Sprite. Unlike most of my friends, I actually like Sprite. After finishing that, I was somehow able to fall back asleep. When I woke up, we were at Yokota AB, Japan. The landing strip was wet and misty, and I had a hard time seeing the room where we were supposed to wait in for two hours. While in the waiting room, I saw it in all its magnificence. I saw CC Lemon. It is one of my favorite drinks of all time, and I hadn’t had it in many, many years. Unfortunately, I had no yen and neither did anyone else in the waiting room.
After waiting for about thirty minutes, the crew decided we could get going again. We boarded the plane and took off for our final destination. Sleep evaded me once more. A few hours later, we landed at Osan AB, South Korea. I was blinded by the light as I stepped out of the cabin of the plane. It was humid, very humid. I looked around and saw what I expected. I saw beautiful, green rolling hills and mountains poking out of the horizon. I saw fields upon fields of rice patties. South Korea is a beautiful country; I had no doubt about that even as I was walking down the airfield. We were then taken to a room and given information about our stay here in South Korea. We went through customs and were put on a bus to take us to our final destination. As the bus drove, I stared out the window and admired the countryside. We pulled into the parking lot of a rec building where we were to be tested. The test went smoothly and my family and I were taken to where we would quarantine. We arrived at our new home and went inside. We could finally relax. I had forgotten how difficult moving overseas was. I fell asleep thinking about my new life in South Korea.
If you or someone you love needs help during this tough time, check out our Resources page for links to mental health resources. If you or someone you love is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, click here for the CDC's instructions. We encourage you to do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe!