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On the first day of Thanksgiving break, a few of my friends and I met up to have dinner. While a dinner may not sound like anything special, the long months of quarantining at home made the simple meal with friends feel like a luxury.
This has been a strange and unprecedented time. The year 2020, for the most part, has been hell on wheels. That said, the personal growth I have achieved in this one year is comparable to that of the last six years combined.
The day after Thanksgiving, I heard the first Christmas song. On Nov. 27, “Frosty the Snowman” played in South Georgia. There was no frost, and there were no snowmen. It was almost 70 degrees, and people were eating their way through leftovers. Why does it start so early?
In short, my dog is dying, and I feel heavy with that certainty.
As I scroll past dozens of Thanksgiving posts on my Instagram feed, I feast my eyes on luscious meals and cheerful Duchenne smiles radiating behind face masks. But this doesn’t look like any ordinary Thanksgiving. Aside from the obvious fact that people are donning masks in many of these photos, the celebrations this year have taken on a smaller scope, with fewer festivities and fewer seats at the dinner table.
I am a semester away from graduating.
This summer, on June 12 — which coincided with Philippines Independence Day — Netflix released a much-awaited special by Filipino American comedian Jo Koy. My family and I, fans of comedy, were so excited to watch it. I had watched some of Koy’s previous shows and always loved his performances.
A puzzle piece went away, rolled around on different surfaces, grazing and bumping and came back with slightly different nooks and crooks. The curves aren’t quite the same and some parts had been left behind, chipped off. The rest of the puzzle board welcomes the returned piece; they missed her. What happens if the puzzle piece doesn't fit? Well, she tries anyways, but other pieces dig into her side and she does the same. Nothing’s intentional but it still hurts and they can’t back out now. They come from the same puzzle board. They are inseparable.
I’m spending my entire freshman year at home, taking classes virtually. My social life is a fraction of what it was a year ago, and that’s saying something. While I didn’t imagine the pandemic would last for so long, I knew it would disrupt my plans.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time editing articles that have focused around the theme of joy. I’m not just saying this so that I can plug The News-Letter’s fall magazine, though you should definitely check it out — take even five minutes out of your day to read or watch one of these pieces and I guarantee it will brighten your day.
The painting is the size of two doors, thick stripes of color against a dark background. I stand in the hall and stare at it, my neck craning to take it all in. Mark Rothko’s No. 14, three rectangles of color — red, dark brown and black — on a 235.9 by 203.2 centimeter canvas.
It’s often easy to forget that I can aim for something more than simply existing during the pandemic, for something as lofty and non-apocalyptic as creative growth. The pandemic seems like it should override just about everything in life. Even the activities I’ve always loved to do, like cooking, creative writing and talking to my loved ones, have now reemerged as coping mechanisms. The pandemic has occupied their negative space, pushing right against them and attempting to take them over, too.
I have never enjoyed waking up early. In my opinion, it is pure cruelty to wake up at the crack of dawn, haul myself out of bed and leave the comfort of my pillows and blankets. I have slept through my fair share of alarms, shown up late to school on too many occasions and once even missed a train ride because of my inherent inability to wake up on time. That is why, this summer, on the day before freshman class registration, I was nervous, anxious and overwhelmed by the idea of having to select my classes at 7:00 a.m. the next morning.
I point to the blue moon. It’s snowing, and I invent reasons to believe that I haven’t changed. It’s pointless, though; I’ve changed, and it’s snowing, and it’s Halloween, and I can count on one hand the things that have stayed the same. On my other hand, I count the amount of people I have spoken to in person since March. I peel open a tangerine, and the wedges of fruit look like little crescent moons. The lamp behind me casts a moon-like shadow against the wall. I look at my hands, and they, too, are moons. It’s late, and I am so, so tired.
For two whole days, our apartment was filled with the deafening racket of drills and hammers. A few weeks before, we had decided to get our own washer and dryer units to avoid using the communal laundry room a couple floors down.
If you ever saw me on campus, you saw me with my headphones on. It’s just a law of nature, like gravity. I’m always listening to music. I can’t help it. The headphones come on, and everything else in the world goes silent. No more incoming texts, no more assignments, no more stress and no more worries.
On Tuesday I deleted all of my social media. There were many factors behind this sudden decision, but the overarching one was that I felt like I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t always: I had to pretend to be okay.
If you are reading this piece, then you are already on the path to self-actualization. This is not necessarily because reading it will create newfound value in your life but because reading it reflects your willingness to learn from the experiences of others.
I loved apple picking as a child. Whether it was juggling the apples, playing hide-and-seek between the bushes or just spending quality time with family and friends, it was always an activity near and dear to my heart. However, my family sadly stopped going after one year when three of my family friends, my sister and I all got severe poison ivy from an apple tree we had climbed.