In true fashion, it's been a minute! We've all been pretty busy what with a global pandemic and all that jazz. —That's kind of what I brought you here to talk about.
I haven't posted any of my thoughts on it. I tried. More than once. But each time my efforts felt futile. 1) Because who am I to tell you how to process your world being turned upside down? I have been affected a lot by all of this, and at times felt like I had things to write about, but 2) who hasn't been affected by this? We were/are all sacrificing something to covid-19. And 3) because my thoughts on this have been changing just as often and quickly as it has. If you're anything like me you oscillate between hopeful we'll see the end soon and coming to grips with the fact you'll never smile at a stranger again.
Truth is, I am no special spokesperson on an international crisis. However, I am a regular person who likes to write myself through things. And that, my dear friends, has always been what this website is all about.
I'm moving back to college in two days and I am over the moon. I'm living in my dream housing situation, with all my best friends in the house but only one of them sharing my living room or kitchen (!!!!) I have become Facebook Marketplace's most trusted customer, driving my parents up and down the gulf coast to acquire all of my vintage furniture conquests. And I have taken to recovering old pillows to tie it all together! (Who knew sewing could be so satisfying?)
In the process of getting everything ready for the next season, though, I cannot help but think of the last.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, I was studying abroad in Seville, Spain. If you follow me on any social media then you know that, in simple terms, I was thriving. That is until I woke up one morning to announcements from the POTUS saying he was closing the United States borders to Europe within the week.
To exacerbate the situation, I had three midterms to take that day. —So ensued my morning routine coupled with frantic bouts of sobbing when my host parents would come in to hug me or calm me, or when one of my host brothers would pass me looking in the mirror and say, "Estás triste?" (Are you sad?) "Sí," I would say through a hurt smile. (Mostly just trying not to freak them out!) Proof:
Over the course of the next few days, we had to book one-way flights home, pack all of our belongings, wrap up our midterms, say goodbye to all of our friends and families, and return home halfway through what would have been our full stay. It sucked, to put it mildly.
When I flew back I was a mess. I cried for the better part two of my three flights and held it together by a thread for the next week while my mom and sister wanted to hear about my travels. Meanwhile, all of my friends from home were on spring break and of the mind they were getting an extended vacation. I felt pretty much like the sole victim of covid-19, misunderstood and alone. —Dramatic, I know. But here's proof!
Then of course my little sister lost her senior year. My mother, her income. My grandparents, their ability to leave the house. Countless at risk communities, their safety. All college freshman, their first year experiences... the grievances go on. We are all losing something; we have all experienced loss here.
Through the months of quarantine and social distancing I have had a lot of time. Time to rest, to scrapbook, to binge eat and exercise, to play and write and read, to escape in tv and spend time with my family... mostly time to come to grips with time.
I am the kind of person who mourns life as I live it. I am constantly living under the understanding I'll never get these moments back, which can be a carpe-diem-positive-outlook or it can be a dark pit of despair, depends on the day! This nostalgia for the present is always present in me for worse or for better, but I had never experienced it like leaving Spain.
How do you cope when you thought you'd have more time? How do you make peace with the fact you can never go back?
In this time I've mostly been coming to terms with the idea that the city, my host family, my friend group, all of it was just a moment in time. I can (and fully intend to) keep these memories and relationships with me, I can go visit again, but I will never have that experience back. It sounds silly, but I've been in mourning. And I still am.
My loss wasn't one day at a time like I'm accustomed to; my loss came crashing down all at once and unexpected. My time was cut short. And no matter how much more time separates me from that event, it will always suck. But one day, it will suck from a place of healing. I'm still in it now; I haven't reached healing yet, and I know that's okay.
I am both expectant for the next season and mourning the loss of the last. Such is life, right? It laughs at my plans and makes me feel so deeply. Such is being alive.
In the seven weeks that were supposed to be fifteen I learned so much. It was short but perfect. I learned I am so capable of change. That when I'm inspired and challenged, I am the best version of me. I'm suddenly the positive one; the greet everyday arms-wide-open one. I say "yes," but not to everything. —I prioritize self care. I watch people; I'm in awe of people. I listen. I wear badass pants and cool earrings! I am confident and capable. I am so happy.
I think part of me is mourning her, too.
Her is me, though, and I know her so much better now. I know how to be the best version of me better now.
The season I'm driving a U-Haul into two days from now will surely look different from the last. Actually, it will surely look different than any other season I've had, masks and all. But I've always been of the belief that different is good. And no matter what life throws at us next, I know now more than ever that I will adapt and I will grieve and I will smile while I keep on going.