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The End of Phase One

How many days has it been? I don’t think I’d be the first to say that I lost count after the first couple of days. But today, for the first time, I have a number in my mind’s eye. Not the number of days that has passed, but rather the number of days ahead: four. There’s just four days until I will be able to see the faces of those who I’ve shared cherished two-dimensional minutes with through the screens that have been my only windows to the world outside.

When I flew home after a spring break that now feels like a distant fantasy, I had no idea what laid ahead. None of us did. The most recent precedent was experienced by generations that have long since passed and the scale of the pandemic was yet to be truly realized. It felt strangely fictional, a long, ominous, drama that held no promise of resolution. For weeks, I functioned on a nocturnal schedule that months later I still have yet to fix. Some days passed by with the blink of an eye, as I padded back and forth from table to table and chair to chair, checking off task after task. Other days, passed much more slowly, the sun rising and falling behind a closed curtain unrealized by the room’s unmotivated inhabitant. The confines of my home became a cell I escaped once a day for runs around the neighborhood, like a hamster released from metal cage to plastic ball to run in endless circles.

Four days. With the impending end of the chapter to this book, I look back to its first sentences and marvel at how much has filled its pages since. How did everything that has happened all fit within these walls? Behind the newly painted room decorations hung up with peeling tape, these walls have held so many anger tantrums, lonely cries, happy cheers, frustrated outbursts, and socially distanced laughs. Within them I’ve attended online classes, been initiated into a sorority, finished my first year in college, been interviewed and hired for my first internship, and watched through a scrolling feed as the country I was born in burned with centuries-old rage. While little about this room and the tangible items in it have changed besides the browning edges of the often neglected house plants, I know that the person and the mind that occupies these walls has.

I’ve survived it. And I’ve survived a good amount of it alone. That is a feat.

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