Eat. Zoom. Sleep. Repeat. For almost an entire year, my once complex, rich routine has settled into this simple 3-step pattern. In March 2020, I returned from my last day at school (for the foreseeable future), believing that I was gifted with a slightly prolonged spring break. I was hopelessly excited, optimistic, even.
It’s now January 2021, and my daily routine is reduced to the bare minimum. I rarely leave my room. My alarm is set to 7:55, just 5 minutes before my first class. Waking up for First Period is a burden and dressing in anything other than pajamas or sweatshirts seems like a worldly activity. I look forward to the monthly emails from my school district: will we go back to school or will we stay in this endless, cyclical pattern for another month? After Zoom school, I hear the familiar announcement from the living room that haunts me in my dreams: “Let’s go on a walk, everyone!”. I scream into my pillow and thrash around in my bed. It’s my 83rd walk of the year.
In February 2021, I finally received positive news in the monthly email updates. Sports are starting! I barely finish reading the email before I frantically contact my teammates, asking if they, too, received the email. It’s the first conversation I have initiated in two months. We stare at the email in disbelief together—I can see an opportunity to spend time with people, real people! Wearing a mask during the duration of practice seems like a small price to pay for actual interpersonal communication. I arrive at tryouts, practices, and games with a stupid grin on my face every day, and although the team is missing a coach and on the verge of another possible shut-down, I had interacted with tangible people and that was sufficient. Moreover, the last-minute scouting for a coach is the tennis team’s annual tradition. The confusion, this tumult is strangely soothing after a year of uncertainty and disorder. The conventional routine of chaos during practices provides hope for normalcy one day, and it is enough for me to believe in the possibility.
Submitted by Carolann Dong, Santa Clara County – San Jose.