by Ilenia Pezzaniti

Tiffany Roper, 35, is waiting to pick up food outside of Upper Crust pizza in Highland Square.

“Today is the first day we’ve been out in about 10 days,” she says. 

“I work for a government agency and right now we’re on administrative leave, so I’ve been at home for about a week and a half. I have two kids. They’re both in school and they’re off of school, so we’re just trying to right now find a new normal, and a new normal is staying indoors,” she says. 

Though they have four rooms in the home, she says it’s still difficult to have enough space during this quarantine given the limited areas they can go. 

“We’re just trying to find a balance between being close to one another but also needing our personal space. So it’s been a challenge, because everyone kind of itches to get away from one another and it’s just really difficult when you only have four walls,” she says.

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The family takes a lot of naps, hangs out outside, and Tiffany still does work from home. Though it can be challenging to be at home with their small children all day, Tiffany is grateful to get to be part of their education, teaching them things they might not necessarily learn in school. “We’re really grateful and fortunate to have what we do have, but it is challenging when you have a life that is very social,” she says. 

Life as an isolating extrovert is proving difficult for Tiffany, who has a birthday coming up. “It is going to be a challenge for me because I love to celebrate life. I love having parties. I love getting together. And to know that we’re going to have to celebrate not only my birthday, but my friends’ birthdays, and different milestones for people apart and getting creative with virtual meetings — getting together virtually is now more important than ever,” she says.

Because Tiffany’s on administrative leave, she is still receiving an income, but finds herself thinking of those who aren’t so lucky. “We are fortunate enough that we’re still paid, but to see other people be laid off, and to see other people struggle with being unemployed, it’s tough to see. And we’re wondering, you know, how long is this going to last for us not knowing how we’re going to move forward with work. I work for a grant-funded program so are they going to end the grant? And then I will be out of a job. It’s just challenging to know what to do next. We don’t really know where any of us are going once this is over, where the economy is going. So there’s a lot of unknowns,” she says.

Though news outlets like the New York Times are citing that domestic violence has nearly doubled in China since the lockdown, and Vox has reported a rise in anti-asian xenophobia, Tiffany hasn’t been exposed to any negative or violent behavior in Akron associated with the virus. “I think, in my experience, people have been really kind to each other. The one time I did have to go to the grocery store to kind of stock up, everybody was just so polite and courteous, and I know that’s not always the case but it’s so nice to see America just be all Americans at the end of the day. We need to come together, and I hope that continues outside of this crisis,” she says.

Ilenia Pezzaniti is a multimedia storyteller and artist living in Highland Square.

Photo: Ilenia Pezzaniti

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