Voice: Before the pandemic normal was: “I’m going to do what I want and go wherever I want.”
Screen shows CBS This Morning broadcast: A dangerous virus is spreading rapidly in China and U.S. officials are very worried that it can come here.
Screen shows NBC broadcast: The first confirmed U.S. case of the contagious
Screen shows GMA broadcast: coronavirus officially hitting the U.S.
The first death from coronavirus here in the United States.
Screen shows Google search bar and someone typing “normal life.”
Ben Ramos, MFA Technical Direction: Now normal is: “Let me try and do those things within these restrictions and being conscious of those of those restrictions that are placed upon you.” And I think, you know, we didn’t have those really before the pandemic.
Screen shows “before the pandemic” in white font against black background.
Caroline Sanchez, MFA acting: So I was very, very busy. I was running around with my family, doing things, constantly, going places, doing lots of shows. I was teaching theater at a bunch of different schools.
Jason Gandhi, men’s basketball manager: Life was very different, obviously. Like, I don’t know, there wasn’t as many restrictions you kind of do what you wanted. Obviously being a college kid, that’s how that works. Like this is the little bubble of freedom. And yeah, I mean, things are going well. Basketball-wise our season, it was just kind of getting ready to peak.
Screen shows front of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Gandhi: March Madness was a week and a half away.
Ramos: Before the pandemic I was here. We were building “Crazy for you,” which was a big, gigantic musical.
Screen shows students rehearsing on stage.
Ramos: We were getting ready to do it. It’s a wonderful show. It’s really big tap show and I love tap dancing. It’s one of my, um, one of my favorite things to watch. Just running around all the time doing different things.
Screen shows “March 11, 2021,” in white font against black screen.
Sanchez: And then yeah, then March 11 happened.
Gandhi: The Big Ten Tournament was just starting, we were actually playing the night it got canceled.
Screen shows the ESPN NCAA breaking news banner stating the cancellation of the college tournaments.
Gandhi: Yeah. I mean, it was a big night. Weird day.
Ramos: So we were getting ready for “Crazy for you,” we were about halfway through. Literally I was right over there building a wall and my boss comes out and goes, hey, don’t finish building the wall,
Ramos is seen sitting down in the construction area.
Ramos: just go set it up over there because we’re probably not going to come back to it after spring break.
Ramos is seen sitting down in the construction area.
Sanchez: I was actually getting ready to go teach one of my classes. We were about to have our final performance, and so I was getting ready to go teach at the school and I get a call that, “Don’t come in.”
Screen shows websites with cancellations.
Sanchez: And then that was it. And then all of a sudden next day it was like, OK, no one’s going anywhere ever again.
Screen shows the governor’s press conference.
Gov. Eric Holcomb: I’ve signed another executive order that calls on all Hoosiers to hunker down, stay at home.
Screen shows “Lockdown 2020” in white font against black screen.
Ramos: Ironically, friends.
Sanchez” My family, for sure. We just we were together at the beginning of quarantine and we really got to reconnect and bond. And so that kind of carried us through all of this. And having my pets.
Screen shows Sanchez walking her dogs masked.
Sanchez: I know, you know, when you don’t have people, having pets really helps as well.
Screen shows broadcast: I want to talk about getting back to normal. They found 71% of Americans are at least slightly concerned about returning to normal. The Centers for Disease Control make the case that schools can be re-open safely.
Sanchez: I will never go to work sick ever again for sure. And I think just giving people more allowances, like really concentrating that everyone is mentally OK so that they’re in a healthy place mentally, physically, and in any other aspects that they need to be healthy. And just making sure that that’s also a priority in a workplace or anywhere else I go. Just making sure, making sure people feel safe.
Gandhi: The flexibility of people being able to adapt to not exactly what they want, but having to adapt to it there is, and what the reality is is a good thing. And I think, well, people will probably look back in a bit and like obviously despite all the heartbreak from the pandemic, I think everybody’s going to have something they can take out of it.
Ramos: We’ve had, we’ve had so many tragedies and so many things happen throughout the pandemic besides the pandemic that I think everybody has really taken solace and analyzed who they are as a person. And I think I’ve, hopefully everybody will come out at this wanting to contribute to society and to make society better.
Screen shows the credits: Featuring Ben Ramos, Caroline Sanchez, Jason Gandhi. Directed by Grace Fox. Filmed by Jack Mittemeyer. Audio by Jamie Anderosn. Edited by Ethan Kidwell.
“Normal Life” is the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, retold through the perspective of students at IU. Before the pandemic, in the midst of lockdown and moving forward — these people tell the story of perseverance toward a new normal.