I told myself I shouldn’t write about this. I shouldn’t write about the chaotic mess the world is in right now, and how it seems like nothing may ever get back to normal. I didn’t want to write about the ridiculous amount of hand sanitizer and toilet paper everyone decided to buy. I didn’t want to point out the common knowledge of how the media makes us feel like the world is ending or how every day around the same time, the Mayor of White Plains calls to update us like we’re in the novel 1984. It’s a strange time to be alive, and our social distancing and quarantine and remote learning will all make history in ways many people didn’t see coming.
But last week (or what will be two weeks ago, when this comes out,) felt like the most abnormal school week I’ve experienced. It was like everyone was waiting for bad news and almost gave up on learning. On Friday, over 70 teachers were absent from school. It felt like in the middle of all this chaos, our school was still. Of course, we knew closing was inevitable after the lights went out on Broadway, all major sports seasons were canceled, and Disneyland was closing. Italy had no room at the morgues and China had been in lockdown for weeks. It felt like the most devastating sci-fi novel.
The weekend that followed was probably the most freedom I’d see in a very long time because starting on that Monday I’d be social distancing for who knows how long (By the time this comes it out will be Day 9.) I guess I didn’t realize it at the time though because as my mom described it, I spent the weekend like it was actually 1984 (not the crazy dystopian version but the one where funky fashion and music were more important than the amount of AP classes you took.) No tests, no homework, no dance rehearsals to worry about, etc. It was like we ironically had no cares in the world.
Friday night, our group of friends celebrated our friend’s birthday. We have a little tradition of surprising the person with a cake and smashing their face in it, and my boyfriend’s birthday was earlier in the week, so I surprise-smashed a pie in his face too. By the end of the night, we all had cake on us at some point and filled ourselves with way too many sweets. We sat around and played games and exposed some secrets and teased each other but it was all in good fun. For a minute we forgot about all of the tragedies occurring in the world around us, and it was nice just being together. And I know you’re probably thinking we broke all the rules of social distancing, but the truth is we’d all been in school together the whole week anyway.
The next day, I woke up way after 10:00 am. 10:00! My excitement probably sounds ridiculous, but I can’t remember the last time I woke up past 10:00 on a Saturday. My best friend picked me up from my house, cooked us some homemade bacon egg and cheeses, and we went to the dam to have a picnic. It was like everyone had the same idea as us, “go outside now, before you won’t be allowed to anymore.” We walked to get ice cream, and walked up to the top of the dam. I even stayed at her house for dinner, like I was an extension of the family. On Sunday, I walked to the middle school by my house (hand sanitizer in hand) to see my friends play basketball as they do on the daily. In the fall they play football, and when it gets warmer they play basketball. They even made me play, and full disclosure I probably got passed the ball only once. But it was alright because I just like being around them, they’re my people and they can make me laugh during a time when the whole world is becoming sad.
I guess what I took from that weekend was that when you’re a part of this generation, all of high school programs you’re to study and fill your schedules to the brim just to move onto the next stage of education. We’re so competitive and the pressure put on us is more than adults can understand, even if they’re the ones continuing the pressure a lot of the time. I, for one, know that my perfectionism and high expectations probably overworked me more times than I can count. I studied harder than most people and danced for more hours than you can imagine. But I had finally made it. I’ve gotten into colleges, my grades are frozen, I’m a second-semester senior. This was supposed to be my time to let it all go. To finally stop caring about every little thing. To stop worrying that if I don’t get real close to a 100, I’ll disappoint myself and everyone around me.
I’m supposed to compete with my dance team for one last year and go to prom in the most beautiful dress. I’m supposed to speak at graduation as Co-President of my class and get recognized at my last dance recital. I was supposed to sing at Carnegie Hall one more time with my Choir, and experience a luncheon I had helped plan for women who made it to calculus (not only is math a male-dominated field, but calculus is one of the hardest courses.) It was supposed to be my year, and now it may all be over.
It may all be over because of a virus that has a hard time containing itself. I am fortunate that none of my loved ones have gotten sick yet and in the grand scheme of things, my interrupted senior year is the smallest blip on the radar. So yeah, that weekend may seem insignificant to you. So what, she hung out with some friends and woke up late? But right now in my dramatic teenage head, who knows when I’ll have a weekend like that again. All I know is that when we get out of quarantine, I’m never going to want to come home, and I’m sure a lot of your children feel the same.
I know you’re probably thinking, didn’t she say she didn’t want to talk about it? I didn’t because who even remembers what the world talked about before the coronavirus. But I’ve come to learn that the best writing often comes from what you know, and this pandemic is something we all know. I hope my little weekend of freedom reminded everyone what life was like before all this happened, of what life will be like when this is all over. We’ll all laugh and picnic, celebrate birthdays, and see each other again, but now it’s time to stay home. So I encourage you to find ways to get through this because as they say this too shall pass. Whether it’s writing, or dancing, or taking a solitary walk outside. Whether it’s doing puzzles, or learning arts and crafts, coloring, watching Netflix, or even allowing yourself to find some humor through memes about remote learning in this crazy crisis. Just help the world get back to normal. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and always remember: 6 feet apart.
Anastasia Meininger, aka “Offbeat Rhythms”, is a high school student in Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. She lives with her parents and older brother, and her life is filled with her hilarious and loving Italian, Irish, Greek, and German family, as well as her wonderfully crazy, and diverse group of friends.
Anastasia is a normal, yet distinctly unique teenager who loves performing, making people laugh, and even going to school! Her favorite subject is Science, especially Chemistry, and when she’s not studying, you can find her at her dance studio, where she rehearses for her dance competitions, and vocal showcases.