Emily Dywan: 159,490 minutes remaining

Emily Dywan , page editor

After months worth of what I once glorified as an extended summer break, I was soon humbled with a less-than-warm greeting once I returned for my eighth grade school year: an obnoxiously large plastic tri-fold, awaiting my return atop of my homeroom’s desk. As if labored breathing beneath an itchy linen mask wasn’t enough to set me over the top, students were required to put these up during every period.

I spared no effort to keep the rubbish intact, carelessly jamming it into my bag and creasing the corners.

The rest of the year carried on in black-and-white, stripped of all it’s color; what once were lively shrieking tables turned into seas worth of plastic barricades and blue masks. What once were late-night calls stretching until sunrise turned into brief texts asking about the homework. And what once was a teen was then a student, only serving to do my work and get good grades.

Despite my resentment, I spent more time with that damned trifold than I did anyone else during the pandemic. And period after period, day after day, that blur of the plastic barricade served as a reminder of the opportunities slipping by infront of me. The world kept on spinning, and I felt like I was stuck in place.

It’s been two years since the pandemic first took effect at our schools, but no vaccine would have cured the everlasting impression covid afflicted onto me. I still dig through the bottom of my bag to avoid asking the people around me for an eraser. I still scream questions of my teacher’s lectures in my head, too afraid to speak up and ask out of place. I still melt hours away after school in the solace of my bed. And I still awkwardly pass conversations with “im-so-tired”s and “what-period-do-you-have-next”s.

Although I might not have to lug around that awkwardly large trifold from class-to-class anymore, I still feel like that same 14 year-old girl looking through a window into what could’ve been mine.