Tori Seiden’s COVID story begins: “It’s been 86 days since I’ve seen my boyfriend.”
She’s a gifted writer. Clearly, calmly, she describes their “long distance during social distancing” relationship. The couple — in their early 20s — go on “virtual dates.” They paint, cook, watch movies, work out, meditate, write journals, learn Spanish and design a dream Minecraft house together, though hundreds of miles apart.
Tori says the experience has taught them a lot about themselves, and each other. It’s brought them closer. They realize if they can get through this, they can surmount any obstacle.
“Of course I want to see my boyfriend,” Tori writes. “But we recognize it isn’t safe right now. So we do our best every day to make the best of things.”
It’s a mature, insightful perspective — and not the kind of story you read every day.
Most coronavirus coverage focuses on case numbers, testing, nursing homes, the economy, parenting, politics, and reopening states. They’re important parts of the pandemic picture, sure.
But what’s missing are young voices.
The Quaranteen Collection fills that void.
The crisply designed, well-written website aims to foster empathy and community — and empower — teens and young adults. Filled with stories of loss, hope, struggle, strength and growth, it’s an outlet for both self-reflection and connection with others.
Quaranteen is a safe, honest space, positive and uplifting despite the harrowing circumstances. Topics range from the impact of distance learning on special education (the writer’s brother is autistic) and the importance of self-care, to the emotions of going back to college — after weeks in isolation — to pack up a dorm room, and leave for good.
“Writing is a powerful tool that offers solace for both reader and writer,” the Quaranateen founders tell teens and 20-somethings. “In these uncertain times, your voice can make a difference in someone’s day and be a source of meaning for yourself. Share your story today; be the hope of tomorrow.”
Besides looking for young Westport writers (click here), the site has a local connection. This spring, a freshman took a writing course that showed him the cathartic power of communication. His professor grew up in Westport.
As his college closed in mid-March, the student and his friends talked about ways they could help other young adults during the coming months. They realized that the reflective process of writing could be invaluable. The idea of a submission-based site was born.
Quaranteen’s founders know that their peers experience a welter of emotions in the best of times. A pandemic makes things exponentially worse.
In the best of times too, young voices are often unheard or dismissed. As the world grapples with a deadly virus, young adults themselves may feel that their problems do not, or should not, matter.
But those experiences and problems are still real. Now — thanks to Quaranteen — anyone facing them can write about them.
And be heard.