COVID-19 and what I once took for granted


Fiona Swan

COVID-19 has taken so much away from normal life, making things we once took for granted much more important to us.

After months of shelter in place orders, a family of four is finally able to eat outdoors at their favorite restaurant again. Their plans for Spring Break were cancelled last month, and their plans to travel during the summer have been delayed. After the bitter disappointment of loss of normality, California finally allows restaurants to open for in person dining, outside. After such a chaotic and uncertain couple of months, they sit down to a meal that strengthens their resolve, helping them realize that although it is a dark time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

About 13 months ago in mid-March, California was ordered to shelter in place, leading to the closure of outdoor dining, in-person school, and travel. Things we once took for granted were pulled out from under us, sending us to search for activities in our life that are certain, things that we knew we could control. And as lockdown continued to wind its way through 2020, the list of things that could be controlled in our lives began shrinking.

A year ago, I was a freshman at what was then Sir Francis Drake High School. Teachers were tirelessly working out how to teach through Zoom and Google Hangouts. The air surrounding me was tinged with chaos. The novelty of my situation was beginning to wear off, displaying the true nature of the predicament people all over the world were facing: unnerving, intimidating, and lonely. I used to beg my parents to let me skip a day of school every now and then when I had the privilege of in person school. I will never make this mistake again.

The very thought of school used to make me shudder, causing instant anxiety. Now, having something in your life that you can count on feels like a luxury, like the feeling of returning to your favorite restaurant for in person dining, an action that a year and a half ago was a fact of life. The everyday mundane task of coming to school was something I never knew I truly enjoyed until it was pulled out from underneath me, sending me into a chasm of confusion. 

Finally, returning to in person school has made me feel like the school year has just begun. The infantile excitement of coming to school makes me feel like a kindergarten student again, skipping to my first day of school, holding my mom’s hand. Despite the fact that school will end in two months, this feeling remains. Because after a year that has been anything but normal, small delights feel anything but small.