Art by Ally Armstrong
Entering my senior year, I had one goal in mind: make every day memorable.
As what I like to call a lazy extrovert — meaning I love being around other people, once you pull me out of the house — this posed a unique challenge. It meant resisting the urge to spend my free hours buried under blankets and instead seek out adventures with my close friends: finally hiking to the cross, going to the Getty Villa’s college night and seeing Lake Tahoe’s glassy waters.
No, it wasn’t easy fighting the impulse to prioritize sleep over experience, but by March, it was my new normal.
When I found out March 11 that I would have to finish my college years studying from home — 2,500 miles away from my closest friends — I assumed my goal had become unattainable. How can I make memories when I can’t go more than a block from my house?
Despite the maelstrom of tragedy and fear swirling outside our windows and spilling into our news feeds, I have found reasons to be grateful for my new spin on a senior spring.
Had things gone as planned — had COVID-19 never cropped up — odds were I would have gone straight from graduation into an internship, job or preparation for grad school. The chances of me landing anything close to home were slim to none, which means I wouldn’t have had much time with family.
But thanks to stay-at-home orders, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy watching new releases like Pixar’s “Onward” with my sisters. I’ve been practicing French with my grandmother over breakfast. My parents and I have fun experimenting with quarantine recipes. I’m making memories that wouldn’t have been possible without this unprecedented moment in history.
This weird interlude in our lives has also given me the chance to develop an entirely new set of skills — a “quar-routine,” if you will. After initially giving in to my lazy tendencies — there’s definitely a me-sized indent in my bed from my Netflix binging — I eventually grew tired of being tired and instead forced myself to write out a few quarantine goals.
They’re all things I’ve told myself again and again I would do over summer breaks but never did: grow flexible enough to do a split, finish knitting the afghan I started a year and a half ago, come up with a sustainable workout regimen, understand the enigma that is Reddit, learn the theme music from “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” on piano.
So now, instead of procrastinating homework by watching another episode of “Schitt’s Creek,” I stretch for 10 minutes, knit a row of my blanket or sit in front of the piano. Yes, it’s frustrating that none of my activities include late-night adventures with my friends, but sheltering in place is allowing me to be creative in accomplishing the goals that, quite frankly, would have most likely been put off until my retirement. (And we all know I wouldn’t have been able to risk doing a split then.)
Maybe, by the end of this whole thing, I watch my friends’ jaws drop when I pull off a split without ending up in the emergency room or can perform the annoyingly syncopated piece “He’s a Pirate.”
It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects to the disruptions to daily life when we have nowhere else to turn for distractions. I still catch myself listing the things I won’t have for the time being: senior spring activities, planned road trips with friends, a hiring environment that isn’t virtually frozen by a pandemic. But then I’m reminded of the unique things I’ve gained already in these past weeks.
This isn’t to say that we should be glad for this pandemic because of the new perspective it has given us. But since we can’t change the situation — outside of taking the proper precautions to flatten the curve — it’s important for us to reflect on the positives that are coming out of it, like our newfound sense of unity and bipartisanship across cities and states.
We are allowed to be sad about the sacrifices we are currently making, but don’t forget to look around and be grateful for what new abilities this time brings us.
Follow Madeleine Carr on Twitter: @madeleinecarr23
Email Madeleine Carr: email@example.com