Behind the Mask
Two Weeks They Said— Pennsylvania
Two weeks they said; everything would return to normal.
One month they said; everything would return to how it was.
A little more than a year has passed yet schools are still virtual, people are still social distancing, and small businesses are still trying to get back on their feet.
The first few days of quarantine were a bliss to students like myself who were burned out from school work, large projects, waking up early, sleeping late, studying, etc. In fact, I hoped for a nice, “extended” spring break. With no required schoolwork, I had the time to pursue the leisure activities that I seldom had time to do with school taking up most of my time. I was able to start art projects that I’d been meaning to start, cook and bake new things, read the books that I’d stacked up but never had the time to read. Most importantly, I was granted time for myself: to reflect on my past, my present, and my future.
It wasn’t until about a month later that I started to feel lost. When both my parents were infected, I had no idea what my future would entail. There was little known about the virus and with the number of deaths climbing and stories of people’s frightful symptoms clouding our minds, we were wary of what stood before us. This incredible change in our lives, which I had once considered manageable, became a nightmare. I realized then that this pandemic forced me to accept something that I didn't know I didn’t want. I had no say and no power; I was utterly lost in those beginning months. But motivational videos and blog posts and friends managed to keep my spirits up.
As the weather started to warm up, the iciness that built up in my heart thawed. My parents healed and a large portion of my worries melted away. But that didn’t take away my longing to see my friends, my locker, and the world as it was before COVID-19 again.
Now after a little more than a year has passed, virtual school feels a little too normal for comfort and I am itching to return to the building. The vaccines are being distributed and several schools have returned to an in-person/ hybrid model. New businesses continue to thrive and restaurants have improvised setting arrangements. I have learned a lot throughout the pandemic; a lot of people have. We learned things that we never thought we’d learn if COVID did not strike. I learned to move on. As frustrating as it was to blame something I could not control for change, I learned to accept the good things that came out of it. We all have to if we wish to rise out of the well that COVID has trapped us in. For once in about a year, I am excited for what’s to come. Through the emotional rollercoaster that the pandemic has trapped me in for one year, I am ready for it to make its complete stop — to allow everyone to finally exit.
— Annetta Yuwono, 16