Being with someone on their birthday in the age of the coronavirus may mean joining a Zoom party or celebrating at a safe distance. Though many traditional birthday celebrations have certainly been spoiled, many Aries and Taurus students are setting the stage for the rest of the year by still putting on their party hats.
Before stay-at-home orders were set in place, people maintained some degree of caution — regularly washing their hands and avoiding close contact. But birthdays falling in mid-March started to witness a spiraling chain of uncertainty.
That’s why Stern sophomore Juliana Perez celebrated her 20th birthday six feet apart from her friends.
“When I had my 20th birthday party on March 15, I didn’t realize the extent to which the coronavirus would affect us — but I understood the risks,” Perez said.
Besides distancing physically, Perez made sure all of her friends washed their hands or used the sanitizer she kept on the table.
Although her birthday party applied social distancing rules, Perez was spared from a virtual celebration.
Many others had to go beyond maintaining a physical distance with friends. CAS first-year Lorena Jimenez never envisioned her 19th birthday would take place in her home.
“My birthday was on March 26 and I thought I would be celebrating in New York with completely new people,” Jimenez told WSN in an email.
Jimenez, who shares a birthday with her sister, is used to celebrating at her favorite restaurant with friends. This year, she had no choice but to stay home with her family. So, from baking her own birthday cake to having a photoshoot in her backyard, Jimenez found alternative ways to celebrate.
“Even with the separation from the rest of the world, this quarantine was able to bring my family together for a very special day,” Jimenez said.
However, April birthdays hit differently. As the peak of the virus approached and the authorities stressed the need to stay home, virtual parties became the newest trend.
Stern sophomore Camila Cascavita, who turned 20 on April 13, felt as though her celebration was “a little sad at first” since she was only accompanied by her immediate family.
“Luckily, I had a friend that brought me Brazilian desserts and another that sent me flowers,” Cascavita said.
But, surprises can go a long way — especially when almost every friendship is long-distance now. Cascavita’s friends joined in the Zoom trend and organized a remote surprise party for the birthday girl. It was as close to an in-person celebration as they could get.
One day later, on April 14, Gallatin sophomore Taylor Murphy chimed in the birthday celebrations with an overflow of balloons and cake.
“My mom and sister decorated the kitchen and tried to make it cute so it would feel like a normal birthday,” Murphy said.
Although making the most of the situation was difficult, Murphy carried out her birthday traditions as usual. She ordered decorations with her mom weeks before, knowing that stores would run short on party supplies. But even so, some of her party gear couldn’t make it on time.
The fate of birthdays beyond the quarantine is up in the air. Many Taurus students have come to terms with quarantine birthdays as the coronavirus clock keeps ticking.
Dull expectations for any birthday are disappointing — let alone milestone birthdays. Sipping your first legal drink at home is a little underwhelming, but Stern sophomore Carlos Figueroa is learning to celebrate on his own.
“Sure, this is a landmark birthday and spending it alone — not being able to see my friends or family — will be tough,” Figueroa said. “But I’ve made peace with it.
For the time being, Figueroa is more concerned with resuming his day-to-day lifestyle.
“I don’t want to delay the process of returning back to normal by not staying put on my birthday,” Figueroa said. “I should value the selflessness that has come by this pandemic.”
With this, Figueroa is expecting an ordinary day, only waking up a year older and getting a few more calls.
Low expectations may be the best solution to quarantine birthdays. Virtual happy hour, anyone?
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 20, 2020 print edition. Email Maria Olloqui at [email protected]