I was 14 when the pandemic hit. I was caught off guard like many. I did not know that would be the last time I’d see my Grade 9 class. We got the announcement we had to move to online learning. The much-anticipated musical concert had to be cancelled. We had to pack our belongings and return the instruments. It was puzzling. I was left with many whys.
Being at home seemed fun at first. It was an unexpected lifestyle of sitting on the couch all day. There was no rushed breakfast and brisk morning shower. I could move like a sloth from my bedroom to study room. Then, I was set for online learning. After class, I indulged in Netflix. The Korean dramas became my favourite. I was in another world.
As comfortable as I may have been at home and having an excuse not to do rigid studies, there was just as much discomfort. There was no structure. Zoom was awkward. I never got to see a friendly smiling face – only masked ones or a black screen. I began to miss the physical presence of my friends. Our home had an unsettling silence. The house felt cavernous with one parent away and the other who worked limitless overtime as a front-liner. It was easy to get antsy, and there was also a guilt of not knowing what to do with myself while many others were losing jobs or dealing with a loss. All these only complicated my feelings.
I had to do something. I could not wallow in my discomfort. I needed a distraction – a change. I no longer had my trombone as it had to be returned but I had my ukulele. I picked it up and there I saw the silver lining. I could make things happen! The lockdown was a chance to delve into other passions. It was a time to discover new hobbies and invest in myself. I picked up sewing and learned to make masks. I made dishcloths for my mother – much to her delight. I made a tote bag for my grandmother in the Philippines. I also discovered the art of calligraphy. At last, my days were purposeful.
Time plods on or flies fast. Two years have passed. I am now in my senior year, and we have thankfully gone back to classrooms. So far, no one in my household has contracted COVID. My family listened to science and authorities. In September, for the first time since the pandemic hit, we took our vacation and flew to the nation’s capital. From Ottawa, we also drove to Manhattan. While in the Big Apple, we found ourselves among the throngs of tourists in Times Square. Things appeared normal. (During the visit, I only had to contend with my mother’s constant reminder to put on my mask).
I feel I have overcome and survived the wrath of COVID although the reality is, it’s not temporary, it’s indefinite. The virus mutates, but I find myself evolving, too.