Similar to the horrible 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers, Americans can vividly picture their whereabouts on March 13th, 2020. It was truly a turning point for the country as a whole. Besides the pandemic itself, the 13th portended widespread political and financial uncertainty. School children were sent home without supplies, and employees were excused from coming in to work. The streets of every major city in America were desolate. Masks were reserved only for healthcare professionals, and everyone chanted, “stop the spread.” Little did we know that a year later, “real life” would still not ba reality.
I remember sitting in my eighth-grade language arts class with my Teacher, Mrs. MacNamara. Everyone was so excited for an extended spring break. That same day, one kid, in particular, came into class wearing a cosplay gas mask; everyone laughed. If that happened today, people would be offended.
As we approach the anniversary of March 13th, the significance of the artificial environment we’ve created to keep the public safe will resonate. A whole year of our lives has been depleted of normal social events and human interaction. Although teachers are working hard to engage students, virtual school is dull and it’s hard to focus. At times, it feels like my eyeballs are falling out of my head from staring at a computer screen constantly.
Binge-eating comfort food is more commonly accepted than ever before. People have labeled this unhealthy habit the “COVID-15″ weight gain. This is a direct connection to the “freshman fifteen,” which is a result of overeating your first year in college. Mental health has also taken a turn for the worst. Children and adults feel trapped indoors and unvalued. Extensions of these lockdowns are infringing on the hope of normal life. But we can and will continue to strive forward. The anniversary of March 13th is a reminder of what we had and what we have endured as a society. I start each day in a positive headspace and make the best of what I have.
Yet, we need more, and hopefully we can begin to move towards “normal” soon.
— Paige Smagala