As a 20-year-old, I was on top of the world, using up my last Spring Break as a college kid to hike through Moab, Utah, with my best friend, my boyfriend, and his younger brother. We had stopped in Denver for a day, had our fortunes read by an old friend who was a grad student at the local university, oohed and awed inside the Denver Art Museum, and bought for the first time in our lives, legal marijuana.
It was a magical week. I found bits of myself in the stops we would make, hiking up hidden trails, sharing a joint at the peak of a mountain, feeling the rush of frigid creek water in between my bare fingers, and getting tipsy from drinking a cheap beer before bedtime.
And then I came back to a closed university. This meant my housing options were abruptly taken away, as it was no longer safe for me, as a resident advisor, to live on campus.
It was my final semester, and suddenly I had to pack up my entire room and quarantine with my boyfriend, his brother, and my friend for two weeks. A lot happened in fourteen days, and how could it not? Tensions run high when the world is ending, especially between four trapped young adults.
Bernie dropped out of the presidential race. COVID-19 hit 10,000 cases in the United States. New York City was filling up with dead bodies. I was forced to drop out of therapy. And everything I wrote reflected my loss of inspiration. Like many of you, it was also one of the darkest and traumatizing times in my life.
And then I went back to my hometown, I lived with my mother and sister for three months, until I moved into an 800-square-foot apartment with my college news editor, Abigail. It was a year spent healing quietly, taking time to spend time with myself and to learn what my mind sounded like when there was no one and nothing there to fill it.
But despite these positive strides, moving workplaces, finding my dream apartment, adopting two pets, and finishing the first draft of my book, COVID-19 is not only here, but it is still a very real threat.
The other day, my mother asked me, “Sydney, is this going to stop when we are all dead?”
That’s what it feels like. Like no matter how much we mask, socially distance, and abide by safety protocols, COVID-19 is going to always come back.
I wonder now if I will ever meet that 20-year-old girl I once was, and if I did, if I would recognize her.