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Day 56 of Shanghai Lockdown


A hiring manager recently asked me, “where do you see your career going?” I told her 50+ days into an endless lockdown is not the time to make plans.

We started this lockdown on April 1st. They said it would be 4 days long and it’s now nearly 2 months later. I get to go outside for 2 hours a day starting yesterday. Nothing’s open. I sat on the street and talked to a very, very depressed friend for 2 hours. Couldn’t even have the dignity of crying with a struggling friend in private. There was nowhere to go. Despite same-day negative results and both being from communities that are covid-free, I can’t just sit on the couch with a friend.

Every single one of my friends in Shanghai is just… We’re not OK.

We have food. We have shelter. Although… Is it still called shelter when you are not allowed to leave? Some of us still have jobs, fewer of us have full paychecks. All of us are beyond exhausted.

“Get out of there!”

I don’t want to minimize domestic abuse, but this is akin to telling a survivor “why don’t you just LEAVE?!”

Because I built a life here. My friends are here. My cats are here. My career’s here. You don’t just up and leave a life you spent 9 years building unless you absolutely HAVE to. And you have to have the means to leave. Somewhere to go to.

Because life is complicated. There are a million minor hiccups in life that are perfectly normal and benign, but in our current lockdown makes even a temporary escape impossible. For example, I sent my passport home to be renewed. It’s now stuck in Taipei. As of today, there’s no international post into Shanghai.

Also, leaving is expensive. I need to board my cats or find them foster homes. I need to store my things. I need permission from local authorities to leave my compound.

I’ll have to sign a letter stating that I won’t return until the pandemic is over. Is that 6 months from now? A year? I don’t know. Nobody knows.

Many of my friends had to make a similar decision in 2020. Most of them never made it back. I had to help pack up apartments. Some worked for months to get their pets back.

So no, I'm not making plans. I'm just waiting.

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